By Ryan Hubbard
After completing his contract at Belgian Champions Anderlecht, EKSTRAKLASAreview understands that former Polish international Marcin Wasilewski has started a trial at English Championship club Leicester City. The 33 year-old was reportedly seen in the stands as The Foxes defeated Wigan Athletic 2-0 this Saturday.
Former Śląsk Wrocław, Lech Poznań and Amica Wronki right-back Wasilewski first earned a call-up to the Polish National Team under the stewardship of the legendary Zbigniew Boniek, and since then he has played on a further 59 occasions, scoring two goals. He was an ever-present in the heart of Franciszek Smuda’s back line for Euro 2012, and also under Leo Beenhakker at Euro 2008, whilst his heart-on-his-sleeve attitude even earned him the honour of captaining his country in their rain-affected World Cup Qualifier against England in the absence of the injured Jakub Błaszczykowski. His last appearance for the White Eagles came as a late substitute against San Marino in March 2013.
The 6ft 1in centre back is known as a no-nonsense and determined player; not afraid to stick in a boot – or even his head – if he has sight of the ball. Sometimes even if he doesn’t. This can quite often result in Wasilewski picking up a yellow card, usually whilst his opponent is left in a heap on the floor. That, along with his deadly set-pieces and fondness for a headed goal, was what quickly endeared him to the Anderlecht fans after his move there in 2007. He repayed them with a massive hand in their Supercup success in 2007, and their Belgian Cup win at the end of the season.
After a potless 2008/09 season, Wasilewski came out determined to help Anderlecht wrestle the title from Standard Liege, who had defeated the “Paars-wit” in a title-deciding play-off the previous season. However it was in an early-season meeting between the two sides where his career took a dramatic turn. With the game still goalless in the first half, Wasyl went into an innocuous-looking challenge with Standard midfielder Axel Witsel. As play was pulled up for an earlier challenge, the Belgian flew into the tackle with his studs in the air – snapping the Pole’s right leg in half. Witsel was red-carded and received an eight-game suspension, whilst Wasilewski’s career hung in the balance.
Although there was originally talk that the “Polish Tank” may not ever return to the game, that only inspired him to complete his rehabilitation as quick as possible. And months before expectations, Wasilewski returned to action in Anderlecht’s final game of the season, coming on as a late substitute against Sint-Truidense – just in time to lift his first Belgian Championship.
After spending six years in Belgium, and picking up a further two league titles, Wasyl’s contract was allowed to expire this summer having played 143 games and scoring 20 times for the Purple-and-whites. Since the arrival of coach John van den Brom, his opportunities have been limited – making only 14 league appearances as Anderlecht picked up the 2012/13 Belgian championship. Despite being linked with a transfer to both Legia Warszawa and Zagłębie Lubin, the Kraków-born defender decided not to return to Poland, instead opting to try to find a new club elsewhere in Europe.
The 33 year-old will now be hoping to earn a contract at the King Power Stadium as Leicester aim to make a return to the Premier League – The Foxes now in their tenth season outside of English Football’s top division. In the past Leicester has been home to, and also started the careers of a number of famous English players including Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton and Emile Heskey, whilst World Cup winner Gordon Banks also played nearly 300 games for the club.
Despite being owned by wealthy backers from Thailand, Leicester’s current coach Nigel Pearson – in his second spell at the club, following the departures of Paulo Sousa and Sven Goran Eriksson – has spent relatively little in the transfer market. After huge amounts were spent on players during the reigns of their big-name coaches, Pearson’s spending has been limited as new financial rules have been introduced for English clubs. Just three players were brought in this summer, two of them defenders, whilst current players earning large amounts have been allowed to leave.
If Wasyl does enough to earn a contract in the East Midlands, he will be the fourth Polish player in the English Championship – along with Radosław Majewski (Nottingham Forest), Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton and Hove Albion) and Tomasz Cywka (Barnsley).
Ryan Hubbard, EKSTRAKLASAreview.co.uk