Poland make their mark on the world stage at Germany '74.
No one should have been surprised at the impact Poland had at the ’74 World Cup, but when they beat Brazil on this day to claim third place in Germany it was the culmination of a fantastic tournament for Biato-czerwoni
and still proved a shock to many.
The signs of a strong showing were there long before the tournament began. First, they had claimed a gold medal at the Munich Olympic Games two years earlier; avoiding the ‘amateur rules’ by fielding a number of full internationals who also had employment within national industries or the army.
Second, their qualifying campaign for ’74 saw them deny both England and Wales a place at the finals, with their place confirmed after a momentous 1-1 draw with the Three Lions at Wembley. Polish goalkeeper Tomaszewski played an absolute blinder that night to deny England the victory they needed to qualify and he would go on to play an important role in the finals.
Their campaign began in style in Stuttgart with a 3-2 victory over Argentina, and they followed this up with a 7-0 thrashing of Haiti. Next up were Italy – runners-up at the 1970 tournament – where two goals before half-time gave the Poles a commanding lead and although Fabio Capello clawed one back for the Italians, it was Poland who progressed to the Second Round group stage as winners of Group 4.
A 1-0 win over Sweden and a 2-1 victory against Yugoslavia saw them extend their unbeaten run and set up a final game with Germany that would decide who would finish first and second in the group, and claim either a place in the Final or the Match for Third place respectively.
It was the hosts, however, who managed to edge their way into the Final, thanks to a goal from legendary forward Gerd Mueller.
Poland went on to face Brazil in the Match for Third place and, determined to finish on a high, they saw their own outstanding marksman Grzegorz Lato bag his seventh goal of the tournament to claim the Golden Shoe award and hand Poland their best ever finish at a World Cup.