Thursday, November 15, 2007

29. Tomasz Kuszczak

Birthdate: 20 Mar 1982
Birthplace: Krosno Odrzanskie
Position: Goalkeeper
Joined United: 10 Aug 2006
United Debut: 17 Sep 2006 v Arsenal (H)
International Poland

The latest edition to United’s goalkeeping ranks arrived at Old Trafford knowing exactly what is required to produce an outstanding performance at the Theatre of Dreams.

With West Brom’s Premiership survival at stake, the Polish international was called upon against United in May 2005 when Russell Hoult went off injured after just 22 minutes. The Baggies had just gone 1-0 down to a Ryan Giggs goal, but Kuszczak pulled off a series of saves in only his fourth outing to keep United out for the rest of the match. Robert Earnshaw’s penalty eventually earned Bryan Robson’s men a vital Premiership point in their ultimately

successful bid to avoid the drop. The following season saw Tomasz become first-choice keeper and his performances, despite West Brom’s relegation, didn’t go unnoticed.

The Reds duly embarked on a relentless pursuit for his services throughout the summer of 2006 and, having already turned down three offers, the Midlanders finally relented on 10 August, fulfilling a childhood dream for the 6ft 3in stopper.

He made an instantly favourable impression at Old Trafford, turning away Gilberto Silva’s penalty against Arsenal on his debut in mid-September. Though he failed to qualify for a 2006/07 Premiership winner’s medal, having played only six games, his efforts didn’t go unrewarded – he received one of three extra winner’s gongs awarded after a successful application to the Premier League.

Tomasz is highly thought of in his homeland. His international debut for Poland, against Malta in December 2003, came at the age of 21 after during 14 appearances at Under-21 level. He was also part of Poland's 2006 World Cup squad, where he was understudy to Artur Boruc, but did not play in the tournament.

If you have trouble with the sheer number of Zs in his name – he has a scrabble score of 53

– the pronunciation of his name is ‘Tomash Koosh-shack’.


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