The 2014 EKSTRAKLASAreview Awards

The 2014 EKSTRAKLASAreview Awards
After yet another fascinating 12 months in Polish football, the time is upon us to gaze through those fantastic moments, and hand out another set of awards to the good-and-great in Polish football. In what is quickly becoming the most-prestigious awards ceremony in the Polish game, welcome to the 2014 EKSTRAKLASAreview Awards!

The five-man Judging Panel

Ryan Hubbard, Freelance writer, editor EKSTRAKLASAreview.co.uk

Michał Zachodny, journalist, Sport.pl

Andrzej Gomołysek, freelance writer, Taktycznie.net

Paweł Mogielnicki, founder, 90minut.pl

Christopher Lash, blogger, Right Bank Warsaw

The voting process

Given the list of categories, our five-man panel were asked to give their three nominations for each award in order. If a nominee is placed in first position, five points are received; if in second position, three points; and third position gets one point. The nominee with the most points after all votes have been cast will receive the award.

In a twist for this year, the Ekstraklasa Player of the year award also had an extra set of voters – you, the public! A poll was placed on the pages of EKSTRAKLASAreview.co.uk, including all of the names chosen by our collective panel for the award. In total, the public vote counts as 50% of the total score.

Got that? Well then let’s get on to the first award.

—-

‘POLES ABROAD’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Robert Lewandowski

2nd= Kamil Glik/Arkadiusz Milik

and the winner is…

'Poles Abroad' Player of the year 2014
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

A second ‘Poles Abroad’ Player of the Year award in a row for the Bayern hitman; following up on last season’s form for Dortmund, he has continued in a rich vein for his new club too.

Seven goals this season have contributed to Bayern’s rise to the top of the table, where they already sit eleven points clear of second-placed Wolfsburg. His exit from Dortmund has been noticed there too, as last year’s runners-up now sit in the Bundesliga relegation zone.

During the last year he has also led the national team to impressive wins against both Germany and Georgia, while also netting four in the 7-0 rout of Gibraltar.

GAME OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Lechia Gdańsk 4-4 Ruch Chorzów

3rd= Jagiellonia Białystok 4-4 Korona Kielce/Legia Warszawa 2-2 Lech Poznań
2nd: Legia Warszawa 2-2 Wisła Kraków

and the winner is…

Game of the Year 2014
LEGIA WARSZAWA 4-3 ŚLĄSK WROCŁAW (13 September 2014)

Level on thirteen points a piece, Śląsk travelled to Legia with a spring in their step, after back-to-back wins against Jagiellonia and Górnik; while the home side had just been defeated by a stubborn Podbeskidzie.

Miroslav Radović opened the scoring after 13 minutes, slotting comfortably past Mariusz Pawełek, before centre-back Dossa Junior doubled the lead eight minutes later with a finely-placed header.

Sebastian Mila pulled one back for Śląsk with a stunning 35-yard strike, however another Brzyski corner was again met by Dossa Junior, ensuring Legia’s two-goal advantage going into the break.

The visitors stormed out of the blocks in the second half, when Dušan Kuciak failed to keep out a Robert Pich volley after his original effort rebounded off of the upright, but pushing for an equaliser, Radović once again broke through the Śląsk back-line to once again re-establish the two-goal lead.

Flavio Paixão did score a header in the 90th minute, but it proved just a consolation as Legia held on for the win.

FOREIGNER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Prejuce Nakoulma

3rd: Ondrej Duda
2nd: Semir Štilić

and the winner is…

Foreigner of the Year 2014
MIROSLAV RADOVIĆ (Legia Warszawa)

Employed by Henning Berg in a more attacking role than previously, Radović had a storming end to the 2013/14 season, scoring eight in Spring as Legia romped to the title. This season he has continued that form: 6 in Europe, 5 in the Ekstraklasa, and 2 cup goals integral to Legia’s continued hunt for all three competitions in which they remain.

2014 also saw Radović gain Polish citizenship.

GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Michał Miśkiewicz

3rd: Pavels Šteinbors
2nd: Dušan Kuciak

and the winner is…

Goalkeeper of the Year 2014
BARTŁOMIEJ DRĄGOWSKI (Jagiellonia Białystok)

This time last year, Jagiellonia stopper Drągowski had played just one game for Jagiellonia’s second string, but now he’s attracting the attention of clubs across Europe.

His senior team debut was an auspicious start for the then-sixteen-year-old, conceding four in a high-scoring draw against Korona Kielce. But capitalising on the sending-off of Jakub Słowik, Drągowski has kept eight clean sheets in fifteen first-team games, making the starting spot his own.

DEFENDER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Jakub Rzeźniczak

3rd: Tomasz Brzyski
2nd: Łukasz Broź

and the winner is…

Defender of the Year 2014
ARKADIUSZ GŁOWACKI (Wisła Kraków)

While there were doubts over Głowacki on his return from Turkey, the past twelve months have shown that the 35-year-old isn’t yet ready to hang up his boots. Solid performances at the heart of the Wisła back-line have been integral to the Biała Gwiazda’s strong Autumn round, as they sit in 4th position, six points behind leaders Legia.

Głowacki’s showing in December’s 2-1 win over Ruch Chorzów earned him a place in the Ekstraklasa team of the week for the fourth time this season.

MIDFIELDER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Radosław Sobolewski

3rd: Ivica Vrdoljak
2nd: Ondrej Duda

and the winner is…

Midfielder of the Year 2014
SEMIR ŠTILIĆ (Wisła Kraków)

Since his return to Poland, Štilić has not only reproduced the form which earned him plaudits whilst at Lech Poznań, but has surpassed it by some margin. His fourteen goals within the calendar year is more than he had scored in the previous four-and-a-half combined; and like Głowacki, has earned multiple appearances in the Ekstraklasa team of the week.

There were also calls for ex-Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Safet Sušić to call Štilić into the national team; and if he continues in the same form, new boss Mehmed Baždarević will also come under pressure to hand him a seventh cap.

FORWARD OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Paweł Brożek

3rd: Marco Paixão
2nd Paweł Brożek

and the winner is…

Forward of the Year
MIROSLAV RADOVIĆ (Legia Warszawa)

While primarily thought-of as a midfielder (even our judging panel couldn’t entirely decide), the bulk of Radović’s performances in 2014 have been as a forward. And what performances they have been.

He was instrumental in Legia’s European campaign, from scoring the late equaliser at home to St Patricks Athletic, through his brace in the second leg, all the way to his group stage winner against Lokeren. He has scored important goals in the Ekstraklasa too, most notably his winner against Lech back in April.

In total, Rado has hit 21 goals in all competitions – 13 in the league, 6 in Europe, and 2 in the Cup.

YOUNG EKSTRAKLASA PLAYER OF THE YEAR (21 years old or younger on 31st December 2014)
2013 Winner: Paweł Dawidowicz

3rd: Karol Linetty
2nd: Bartłomiej Drągowski

and the winner is…

Young Player of the Year 2014
ONDREJ DUDA (Legia Warszawa)

After being pipped to the ‘Midfielder of the Year’ and ‘Foreigner of the Year’ awards, Duda finally picks up a prize as the best young player in Poland.

Impressive performances for Legia in both the league and cups have attracted the attention of many, and also earned him a spot in In Bed With Maradona’s list of the world’s 100 best talents. Well on his way to becoming a star of the Slovakian national team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sought after by some of Europe’s top clubs.

EKSTRAKLASA VETERAN OF THE YEAR (35 years old or older on 31st December 2014)
2013 Winner: N/A

3rd: Łukasz Surma
2nd: Radosław Sobolewski

and the winner is…

Veteran of the Year 2014
ARKADIUSZ GŁOWACKI (Wisła Kraków)

Turning 35 back in March, many wondered how much of an impact on Smuda’s Wisła team the ageing Głowacki would have. That will have included Smuda himself, who has signed defenders Dariusz Dudka, Michał Sadlok and Richard Guzmics during 2014.

Yet Głowacki has turned back the clock, returning to the form which saw him as an integral part of the national team a few years ago. While his eight yellow cards and one sending-off during 2014 are partly down to a loss of speed, his ability to read the game has shown he still has an important role to play in the Ekstraklasa – as seen by the fact he has missed just 180 minutes of league football this season.

EKSTRAKLASA MANAGER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Adam Nawałka

3rd: Leszek Ojrzyński
2nd: Tadeusz Pawłowski

and the winner is…

Manager of the Year 2014
HENNING BERG (Legia Warszawa)

Taking over from Jan urban at the turn of the year, Berg took a Legia side deflated from exits in both the cup and the Europa League, and turned them into the side we see today. The additions of both Ondrej Duda and Orlando Sá, as well as his deployment of Radović as a striker have proved inspired, as Legia look well On-course for a third successive Ekstraklasa title.

The impressive hammering of Celtic, and domination of their Europa League group have been stand-out moments; while the 3-2 Superpuchar defeat to Zawisza, in which a Berg fielded a weakened side, is the only blot on an impressive 2014.

GOAL OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: N/A

3rd= Semir Štilić (v Lechia), Semir Štilić (v Górnik), Bartosz Bereszyński (v Lech)
2nd: Ondrej Duda (v Metalist Kharkiv)

and the winner is…

Goal of the Year 2014
PAWEŁ BROŻEK (v Zawisza Bydgoszcz)

After his awards for ‘Striker of the Year’ and ‘Transfer of the Year’ in 2013, Brożek’s third EKSTRAKLASAreview Award comes after his delightfully positioned header against Zawisza Bydgoszcz.

While he got just the faintest of touches on the ball, and probably wasn’t even aiming for the far corner, his flick was almost perfection.

Trailing 2-1 with sixteen minutes left on the clock, Emmanuel Sarki weighted a cross into the area, which was straight at the on-rushing Brożek. Rather than trying to control the ball, the striker opted to get his head in front of the ball, opting to flick it almost backwards, towards to back post.

Whether it was an attempt to play-in the advancing Ostoja Stjepanović, or to intentionally fool Zawisza keeper Grzegorz Sandomierski, it did the latter – sneaking into the far corner to equalise. Wisła scored twice more in the last twelve minutes, winning the game 4-2.

TRANSFER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Paweł Brożek (Recreativo de Huelva to Wisła Kraków)

3rd: Flavio Paixão (Tractor Sazi to Śląsk Wrocław)
2nd: Semir Štilić (Gaziantepspor to Wisła Krakow)

and the winner is…

Transfer of the Year 2014
ONDREJ DUDA (MFK Košice to Legia Warszawa)

Arriving from Slovakia in the winter, Ondrej Duda was seen as one to take Legia forward over the next few years; but no-one was expecting the impact he has had already.

With the footballing maturity of someone ten years his senior, he has earned a call-up to his senior national team, with the country’s assistant coach Stefan Tarkic claiming that Duda has “everything it takes” to make it at the highest level.

With the 20-year-old already attracting the attention of Napoli, as well as a host of Premier League clubs, he is definitely one to watch; however if he carries on, he may not be in Warsaw for much longer.

EKSTRAKLASA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2013 Winner: Jakub Rzeźniczak

3rd: Ondrej Duda (10.93%)
2nd: Miroslav Radovic (30.93%)

and the winner is…

EKSTRAKLASAreview Player of the Year 2014
SEMIR ŠTILIĆ – Wisła Kraków (38.10%)

Despite trailing Radović in the judges selections, Štilić’s runaway victory in the public vote was enough for the ‘Midfielder of the Year’ to pip the ‘Forward of the Year’ to the most prestigious award of the lot.

With a penchant for scoring fantastic goals, both from set pieces and open play, as well as playing a huge part as Smuda’s Wisła side climbed back towards the right end of the table, Štilić was always going to be a contender for multiple awards. His second gong of the year, plus two third-place finishes (both in goal of the year), and two runners-up spots are a testament to how impressive he has actually been this year.

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