Artur Boruc: Bournemouth’s Backbone

 

boruc

Robert Lewandowski is the first person that comes to mind when Polish football is being discussed; striker for Bayern with an immense finishing ability. Team wise, it’s usually Legia Warsaw. They have some nice goalkeepers; recently moved Wojciech Szczesny. But I think of Artur Boruc, the most active brazen 35 year old goalkeeper in England, who has had quite the history of being a trigger-happy pert.

Let’s see…what exactly has happened over Boruc’s 15 year career?

  • Flipping the bird on many occasions to opposing team’s fans (particularly Rangers fans during Old Firms)
  • Scuffling with Lee Naylor against Spartak Moscow (later, he donned the Superman cape during penalty kicks)
  • Getting fined $50,000 for drinking before a preseason friendly against Holland
  • Personal life blunders with the ladies

(I wonder what Jerzy Dudek was thinking about after his drinking soiree?)

Once the best goalkeeper (Old Firm rival Rangers Allan McGregor was up there as well) in the Scottish Premiership while playing for Celtic, “The Holy Goalie” is now manning the sticks for newly promoted Premier League side Bournemouth’s inaugural season in top-flight football, which means Boruc will be making his return to the top-flight as well, albeit, with a club that has never experienced top-flight football.

I’ve had a little obsession with Boruc since he started playing at Southampton. His previous team, Fiorentina, was a nice two-season stint for him, too, where he made 62 appearances. There was something about his wacky, squirming Bruce Grobbelaar-esque (or, alternatively, in the past decade, Doing The Dudek) movements in 1v1s that won me over and his full-blown recklessness. On top of that, he threw down the hammer when his backline disobeyed him for the littlest things.

Initially, Boruc signed a short-term loan. It was a hybrid of him not believing that Bournemouth, a team who was totally oblivious to top-flight football, would be an actual contender and as an emergency backup keeper signing. But then, Boruc impressed Eddie Howe. Howe, smartly, analyzed that, and extended him immediately after parrying several overwhelming powerful shots (like this one) and stops that require blistering fast reactions and reflexes.

Most goalkeepers are as eccentric as Boruc is definitely not an automatic lock on anybody else’s team; hell, you can even say he’s the Mario Balotelli of goalkeepers because of his freewheeling, foolhardy personality off the field. But a contentious one like him is welcome on my team anytime…when he’s performing through the roof and not failing to Cruyff turn around Olivier Giroud, because after all, as Gianluigi Buffon said in an interview with The Guardian:

“A goalkeeper must be a masochist and egocentric.”

“Damn, Gigi, you really are Dr. Phil!”- Boruc

Eddie Howe—the second time around— should be applauded for doing great business. Signing Boruc permanently back in May, was absolutely perfect for this Bournemouth side. His year-long loan was a success and so was Bournemouth’s season. Ronald Koeman signaled his exit after he had signed Forster as Southampton’s goalkeeping recourse; a team that’s never entered the realms of the Premier League is lucky—more so smart—to go out and sign such an outspoken trooper on the field after initially filling in. And, along with Boruc’s permanent deal, Howe signed his star striker Wilson to a four year deal, as well as adding another veteran goalkeeper in Adam Federici, Reading’s crown jewel goalkeeper who had loads of bad luck against Arsenal in this past year’s FA Cup semifinal.

You may be wondering: Why is Boruc so important to Bournemouth, who accumulated 90 points in last year’s Championship season, edging out Watford by a point for automatic promotion and the Championship title? He amassed 18 clean sheets during his extended season-long loan, including an 8-0 thrashing of Birmingham City in October, where he saved a penalty while being up by quite a few goals.

Cherries supporters will tell you that, even though Callum Wilson’s savvy goal scoring ability, Sylvain Distin’s and Christian Atsu’s names are at the forefront of the squad, Boruc’s first (and, initially, only stint) tenure showed he still had it in the so-called twilight years of a footballer, much rather a goalkeeper (Peter Shilton retired at 46 years old, so swallow that before you say twilight sometimes). They’ll also tell you that he was the leader of the 2014-15 promoted squad.

A one-year deal may not be long at all, but for Boruc, as long as he keeps making saves like these from last season, he’ll be the leader of the Cherries before his way out.

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