Last October 26 was not another day for Polish football. That day, matthew cash, Aston Villa’s English winger, finally obtained the passport of that nationality after a process streamlined by the country’s own president, Andrzej Duda, and the European team that has scorer Robert Lewandowski in its ranks and who will be rival of the Argentine team in the World Cup, you can enjoy it
In this way, Cash will face the Argentine national team to his teammates from Aston Villa Emiliano “Dibu” Martínez and perhaps, to Emiliano Buendía.
When Cash received his Polish passport (he has roots in that country from his mother) at the embassy in London, he immediately tried to ingratiate himself with his new audience, thanking President Duda and President Duda in a nationalistic tone in a Polish-language tweet. head of the Polish Federation, Cesary Kulesza. “Thank you, Mr. President. It is an honor and an extremely important moment for me and my family. I will give my best on the field. Let’s fight for Poland!”
The process had begun two and a half years earlier but went through moments of a lot of bureaucracy and his chances seemed lost in a labyrinth of paperwork, until political power accelerated everything.
The beginning of Cash’s chances to wear the eagle shirt was when nine years ago, the then president of the Federation, the former Juventus crack Zbignew Boniek, took over with the idea of looking for players all over the world who had the possibility of obtaining a passport due to family ties with this country, “But the condition, then, was that they speak the language,” he told Polsatsport.
In the middle of this report, suddenly, Boniek introduced a controversial topic that would not be the only one: “The players we were looking for did not need to know poetry, but speaking Polish is a communicative degree so that they can communicate with the dressing room they represent. The criteria was simple and obvious. Maybe now it’s different, but I don’t judge if it’s good or bad. But I still think the same thing and Cash doesn’t speak Polish. And he for some reason he thought to ask for a Polish passport from him at 25 years old. Maybe because he already knows he can’t play for England? Hard to know. Brexit must also be taken into account and for British footballers, obtaining a European passport that allows them to pursue a career outside of England, can be very important, and without this document, they would not be able to. In the modern world, where almost everything is done for profit, it is difficult to accuse someone of opportunism.
Anyway, Boniek qualified these words when he had to technically define Cash: “I have seen him: He is an interesting player, very dynamic and fast, and he crosses well. He is completely different from Kamil Jozwiak (winger for Charlotte, Major League Soccer) and quite similar to Bartosz Bereszynski (winger for Sampdoria). He seems like a good guy, but I don’t think he’s the one that (Portuguese) coach Paulo Souza (who later stepped down at the end of 2021) counts on.
However, by the start of the 2021/22 season, Souza had already changed his mind and traveled to London -accompanied by his collaborator Jakub Kwiatkowski- to watch him play against Arsenal for the Premier League (the locals won 3-1) and the next day (October 23) he met Cash personally at the Polish embassy. The idea of the coach, who asked the highest-level political officials for help in speeding up the passport, was to have Cash for the November World Cup qualifying matches against Andorra and Hungary, but especially thinking about the play-offs, the that they had to face Russia. His debut as a right back would take place there.
Despite all the celebrations and thanks from the player, Not all Polish fans were so clear about it, and their call divided society. Many argued that if Cash decided to play for Poland it is because of the impossibility of doing so for England.
So much was the controversy, that the Aston Villa side ended up accepting an interview on the program Moc Soccer of the sports TV channel. There the player was asked what he would do if suddenly, Gareth Southgate, the manager of the English team, called him for a call-up. “There’s no way he would go,” he said. I have Polish roots and I have to be honest with myself and my family, and I have already made up my mind. Representing Poland is a dream come true.”
But when everything seemed to be cleared up, the program contacted Boniek, who insisted that he had only one question to ask Cash: “Why, until the age of 24, he never tried to get a Polish passport before and now he is in such a hurry?” The winger defended himself by saying that in truth “the issue of the passport has been going on for a long time, only that it was delayed.”
That idea was also taken from the British newspaper dailymail, which argued that Cash reaches the Polish team “now that he has lost all hope of being called up to the English because Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier are in the bands ahead of him,” the tabloid emphasized.
Rather, the website The Athletic He recalled that the one born in Slough, Berkshire, “has been managing his Polish passport since 2019 because his goal was already to play the 2020 European Championship, postponed to 2021″ and that despite going through teams like Wycombe Wanderers and Nottingham Forest, “He never wore the English shirt in his youth stage.” In 2021, precisely, Aston Villa paid 16 million euros to Forest, who was a member of the Second Division, for his pass.
In an interview with Laczy nas Ball, in an attempt to bring him closer to the fans and get him out of anonymity, Cash’s family told how their relationship with Poland is, and that his mother Barbara and his parents (Matthew’s grandparents) come from Polish lands, although his father Stuart, a former footballer, also speaks. Teresa, his mother’s sister, was also in charge of telling how they call him in the privacy of the home. “We call him Mat or Mateusz, and less often, Matthew. And no one in the house calls him Maty. They started calling him that on television summaries playing for Nottingham and he stayed ”.
There were also references to his childhood and the hard times he had to go through coming from a working-class family and had to alternate training with a trade to help survive by selling toys at “Daniel” stores in Windsor at age 17.
Also the media that wanted to grow Cash’s image discovered another gem: his family origins in the small town of Bransk (less than 4000 inhabitants) in Podlaskie province, Bielsko county. In fact, the mayor, Eugeniusz Koczewski, appeared, saying that he is proud that Cash’s maternal family comes from there and invited him to visit the place.
Cash’s grandmother, Janina, left Poland for England in 1964 and never came back. something narrated by his daughter (the player’s mother), Barbara, who also described that Bransk is called “The City of the Righteous” and refers to the number of Jews – they were 58 percent of the total inhabitants up to that time – saved by locals during World War II and you can even see a commemorative plaque.
“The Second World War had tragic consequences for this city,” says journalist Kamil Pietraszko, a journalist for the portal Biielsk.eu and interested in Cash’s story – and there is no other city in the world that has so many inhabitants decorated with the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal, awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute, Jerusalem. Fourteen people received him.” Last November, the monograph “Bransk” by the renowned historian Zbignew Romaniuk was published, which relates that the boxer Dariusz Snarski was also born in this city.
In that same article, many members of the city’s Senior Club remembered Grandma Janina for her maiden name, some relatives, and her history of emigrating to Britain, Pietraszko says.
When he was summoned, Cash took the opportunity to throw flowers at the game of the Polish team: “I love watching him. It is an aggressive team. I liked him a lot against England, he played very well that time”.
Cash’s entry into the Polish national team having been completed, he received the blessing of Paul Souza (who emigrated from the national team days after Christmas to take charge of Flamengo): “I am happy because it is a great opportunity for us and he is a player who can help us. He is part of a group of sixty that we are analyzing, some more in the long term, others closer. Premier League players like Bednarek, Klich or Cash can contribute a lot because this competition requires the highest capacity in many aspects. I always talk about three components: the quality of the training sessions, the internal competition for a place on the squad, and the real competition with the rival. Passing these three aspects means that the player is at a very high level”.
“Cash can help us a lot – insisted Sousa – not only by playing strictly in his position but also by creating an alternative in other “corridors” of the field. But we have to take care of the team spirit, create the right atmosphere. This is an election that is a small community, made up of very different personalities and in London, being with his family, I felt the pride of these people that Matthew participates in the national team and they are very excited and I saw the same in him. I saw that his head and his heart are with us.”
But the moment of the most complicated question arrived, how Sousa considers that a player who does not speak the Polish language or know the words of the national anthem should be integrated. “In the beginning – he maintained – the most important thing is the approach, to feel how the player deals with the matter. Life brings us different scenarios. Many Poles, or people with Polish roots, live in England or Ireland and so the Polish Federation is doing a great job of tracking down players who participate in those tournaments. And in the case of Cash I am calm because I see that he is a lucky boy, open to the world, enthusiastic about his career and I am sure that his colleagues will receive him very well and will make him feel at home. . For the rest, there is time. You can learn the anthem or the language calmly, although it must be recognized that Polish is not easy, but the language we expect from it is that of the pitch”.
Cash says that the first Polish national team player who contacted him was Mateusz Klich, of Leeds United, who was then directed by Marcelo Bielsa, and rival of the Premier League. “We didn’t know each other before and I replied to a message he sent me when rumors began to circulate about my possible call-up to the national team and I told him that it would be possible, finally, to play together after years of facing each other”.
Once incorporated into the Polish national team, the other issue is that Cash became part of the elite squad along with Lewandowski and the players of the Premier League teams are still less known than most of their peers, earning 65,000 pounds a week at Aston Villa, the fifth best paid at their club within the national team, just surpassed by the goalscorer from Bayern Munich, and by Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli) and Arkadiusz Milik (Olympique de Marseille), and ahead of Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham) or Krzysztof Piatek (Fiorentina).
The recent history of the Polish team is better known: its rival in the play-off to go to the World Cup in Qatar, Russiawas disqualified, and ended up qualifying by beating Sweden in the end. Cash started in this match, integrating a line of four defenders along with Glik, Bednarek and Bereszynski, and if all goes well, he will be in Qatar, and playing in the Argentine national team group.