Lewandowski reveals. “Webb admitted his mistake”

Lewandowski reveals. “Webb admitted his mistake”

I know there was no foul. Shortly later, Howard Webb admitted to me that he regretted this decision – says Mariusz Lewandowski, a participant in the memorable match between Poland and Austria (1:1) at Euro 2008. On Friday, the White and Reds can take revenge for that match.

It was the third minute of added time when, during the clash between Mariusz Lewandowski and Sebastian Proedl, referee Howard Webb  noticed a foul by the Pole and, with the score being 1-0 for Poland, he awarded a penalty kick to Austria. Ivica Vastić converted the “11” into a goal and the Polish team won their first European Championship victory. We didn’t get it until eight years later.

Before Friday’s Euro 2024 match Poland – Austria, WP SportoweFakty talks to the main character of that action from Vienna. – It kept me awake for a long time. You could say that I had nightmares about this action. Thoughts about this situation kept coming up and I kept replaying the situation in my head. I have played a lot of matches, but no mistake has stuck with me for so long – the 66-time Polish representative tells us.

Mariusz Lewandowski , 66-time representative of Poland, former player of, among others, Zagłębia Lubin and Shakhtar Donetsk: No, the national team’s play looked really good. You could see the idea, the coach’s work with the players, the closeness of the entire team – everything that had not been present in the squad for a long time. Failures can be accepted when there is progress and a plan, and that was the case this time. The fans may be happy with the last match, but I have the impression that there is sportsmanship in the team because they feel that they could have at least drawn this match.

Friday’s match against Austria will be special for you, because we all remember the match from 16 years ago, when we had a huge chance to win, but a penalty kick due to your foul ruined the chance (1-1 at the end). 

Please believe me that although a lot of time has passed since that match, I still feel strongly about that event. I know there was no foul there. Shortly afterwards, I met referee  Howard Webb  during the Shakhtar Donetsk match in the Champions League and he himself admitted to me that he regretted this decision.

I’m guessing that during the meeting you tried to remind the referee of that mistake.

Traditionally, before the match, I went to say hello to the referee. He recognized me and we talked for a while. He admitted that this match stuck in his memory, he watched the replays and he knows that he would not make such a decision again.

Have you forgiven him for this mistake?

I believe that anyone can make a mistake and people need to be forgiven. Today I no longer have a problem with Webb. In fact, even shortly after this incident, I was able to talk to him.

What exactly happened there?

Jacek Bąk was fighting strongly with another player, and the referee warned him several times. I have the impression that after the ball was thrown into the penalty area, the referee thought that he was in contact with the opponent again. But this was an illusion. I can guarantee that Sebastian Proedl  just laid on top of me. There was no foul and I am convinced that if VAR had existed then, there would have been no penalty. In fact, Howard Webb himself is of this opinion. However, it cost us very dearly.

Has that action been on your mind for a long time?

She didn’t let me fall asleep for a long time, you could say she was dreaming about me at night. Thoughts about this situation kept coming up and I kept replaying the situation in my head. I’ve played a lot of games, but no mistake has stuck with me for so long. People keep reminding me of this and it doesn’t make me feel good. I was aware that if we won this match, we would have a great opportunity to get out of the group. These are not easy situations. There’s a match against Austria on Friday and I’m already prepared for my friends to remind me of this all day long, and I probably won’t react calmly to these taunts.

This time the match against Austria will provide as many impressions as the one from 16 years ago?

In my opinion, it will be a more difficult match than against the Netherlands. Austria has a very well-balanced team that can play the ball very well in positional attacks, but is also very dangerous on the counterattack. Besides, everyone knows that this match may decide who will take third place in the group. I expect both teams to be tactically disciplined, but there will also be a lot of fighting.

After the match against the Netherlands , Bartosz Salamon received the most criticism from the experts . Do you also think that he was responsible for the goals conceded?

It’s always easiest to blame the defender and goalkeeper for conceding a goal because they are closest to the ball in key moments. I wouldn’t look for individual mistakes. There was a lack of experience and cunning at the end.

Is there anything else that needs to be improved in our team’s game?

I expect that coach Probierz will decide to change his midfielders for the next match. Taras Romanczuk  had a lot of work to do in front of the defenders, he received the ball very cleanly with slides several times, but this still does not guarantee him a place in the starting lineup for the match against Austria. Sebastian Szymański was even less visible. The substitutes, Jakub Piotrowski  and Jakub Moder , performed well . I won’t be surprised if they get their chance from the first minute.  After the last match, there were voices that if  our team was doing so well without Robert Lewandowski , maybe there was no point in hastening the captain’s return for the match against Austria. What do you say?

Such theories make me laugh. I understand that you can add philosophy to everything, but this makes no sense. Robert Lewandowski means a lot to this national team and as long as he is healthy, he should play in the first team.

Do you believe in getting out of this group?

Before the match against Austria, I am full of optimism. We have a young team that can achieve something even during Euro 2024. If we want to get out of the group, we simply have to win against Austria, because counting on a possible victory against France is a false hope. France looks great and to win against them, it is not enough to play a great match, but also to count on many other factors to work out well.