Marian Szeja the trailblazing debutant, Waldemar Matysik the most influential and Andrej Szarmach the highest profile – all signings from Poland who helped drive the unlikely rise of Guy Roux’s Auxerre from tiny 1960s provincial club to French 1990s powerhouse.
Fourteen Poles have played for Auxerre and between the years of 1974 and 1993 there were never less than two on the club’s books. Such has been their importance to the club’s cause over the past four decades that we have dedicated our latest Eleven fantasy team to choosing the best of them. With the majority of those Polish signings having been midfielders or forwards, we’ve used some creative licence in the defensive positions to give our team a more natural balance.
Read more details about our selections below.
1.Marian SZEJA 1974-80 (190 appearances)
The 32-year-old former international goalkeeper arrived at a then Second Division Auxerre in 1974 via Metz and after a long career with Zaglebie Wałbrzych. He remained first choice for six seasons including playing in the teams that reached the 1979 Coupe de France Final and the first ever top-flight promotion winners the following year.
2.Tomasz KLOS 1998-00 (60 apps / 4 goals)
The right-sided international defender moved to Auxerre from LKS Lodz and spent two successful seasons with the Burgundy club before continuing his career in Germany. Earned 69 international caps and played in the 2002 World Cup.
3.Pawel JANAS 1982-86 (135 apps / 1 goal)
The experienced international defender was one of his nation’s more impressive players at the 1982 World Cup and his move to Auxerre after the tournament was over was seen as something of a coup. Served the club with distinction over the next four seasons.
4.Henryk WIECZOREK 1980-82
A squad member during the 1974 World Cup, Wieczorek was allowed to move abroad from Gornik at the age of 30 and he brought his considerable experience and nous to newly promoted Auxerre’s midfield.
5.Zibigniew KACZMAREK 1990-92 (54 apps)
A regular international during the 1980s and key player for Legia Warsaw, Kaczmarek joined Auxerre in 1990 and enjoyed two good seasons as the team’s midfield anchor.
6.Waldemar MATYSIK 1987-90 (110 apps)
A scheming, deeper-lying midfielder we have converted to sweeper for this team. Matysik played for Poland in both the 1982 and 1986 World Cups and Auxerre was the first of the five foreign clubs he enjoyed success with upon leaving Gornik Zabrze in 1987.
7.Ireneusz JELEN 2006-11 (140 apps / 48 goals)
After struggling with injury in the early days following a move from Wisla Plock, Jelen settled in well and became Auxerre’s most potent goal threat. He was named both club and national Player of the Year in 2009 and could play with distinction in attack or on the right wing – we have picked him in the latter role.
8.Jozef KLOSE 1978-80 (57 apps / 11 goals)
Jozef, father of future German international Miroslav, had a short but impactful couple of seasons with the club after joining them from Odra Opole. Also a forward, Klose didn’t score prolifically but the goals he did manage tended to be important ones as he helped the club reached a Coupe de France Final and win a promotion during his time there.
9.Andrzej SZARMACH 1980-85 (157 apps / 100 goals)
Undoubtedly Auxerre’s highest profile Polish signing, the big mustachioed centre forward arrived at the club at the age of 29 after making his name starring in Poland’s wonderful front lines at the 1974 World Cup and 1976 Olympics. His contribution to newly promoted Auxerre’s cause was a match for his lofty reputation and he remains to this day the club’s most prolific top-flight scorer.
10.Zbigniew SZLYKOWICZ 1974-78 (132 apps / ? goals)
Arriving in France at the age of 30, Szlykowicz doubled up as both player and coach for the D2 club and became something of a cult hero in Burgundy. He spent four successful years at the club and a generation later his son would play in the Auxerre youth ranks.
11.Andrzej ZGUTZCYNSKI 1986-87 (31 apps / 1 goal)
A forward who arrived at the club fresh from Poland’s 1986 World Cup campaign, Zgutzcynski would spend just a season with Auxerre before moving on to Dijon. That season yielded just a single goal, but there were still some welcome flashes of his undoubted talent for the club’s fans to appreciate.