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New Arsenal signing Jakub Kiwior opens up on his footballing journey and why he chose north London

Kiwior’s arrival at London Colney was another under-the-radar move by Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar, one that many fans should be excited for after his incremental rise across stints in multiple nations across the continent

Arsenal’s connection to Poland has hardly been a cornerstone of their transfer remit or youth development track across the Premier League era. Those that have arrived in north London did come with big expectations, however.

You know the names, of course, even if you are not among the fanbase; Wojciech Szczęsny, Łukasz Fabiański, and Krystian Bielik. All made their way to London Colney by way of domestic giants Legia Warsaw, and all three eventually left the club amid a different set of circumstances.

Szczęsny was first in line in 2006 and his stint at the club would be the most notable among the small historical Polish contingent, completing his footballing education for three seasons until 2009 in the academic ranks after just one year in Legia’s youth set-up before going on to make 181 appearances across all competitions while helping Arsenal to back-to-back FA Cup triumphs in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.

Fabiański was the second to make the switch in 2007 as a 20-year-old in the wake of two years as Legia’s number one despite his tender age, but it was only during the 2010-11 campaign that he eclipsed ten league appearances while starting on fourteen occasions; which constituted 43% of his starts across his seven years before moving on to Swansea City and then West Ham United where he remains at the time of writing.

And then there was Bielik; a player who many had such high hopes for. But injuries and multiple loan stints of varying degrees of success stood in the way of him ever becoming a fully-fledged Arsenal asset with just two League Cup appearances on his CV before a move to Derby Country in the summer of 2019.

But perhaps January signing Jakub Kiwior will have something more to add to Poland’s influence in the English capital at one of the Premier League’s most-storied institutions.

One year later, his performances caught the eye of domestic superpower MŠK Žilina who would snap him up and benefit from his progression on and off the pitch across two seasons, when yet another move would bubble to the surface in Liguria with Spezia Calcio in 2019. It was here that Kiwior truly found his voice in one of Europe’s top leagues while eventually not only coming into view of both Juventus and AC Milan but also getting his chance with the full Polish national side on 11 June against the Netherlands, which eventually led star striker Robert Lewandowski to sing his praises.

In need of reinforcements in the heart of the back four, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and club technical director Edu Gaspar decided to – once again – fly under the radar and trust in their growing competence with talent ID and splash a reported £22m on the budding defender during the winter transfer window, who just recently made his debut for the club in their 2-2 draw against Sporting CP in the round of 16 of the Europa League.

Since then, Kiwior has opened up on his footballing journey and why he chose Arsenal when he sat down with the club’s official website to give supporters a greater insight into his story, which begins his connection to family and his father.

“My family are extremely important, the most important thing to me, because they raised me. I think my dad has been really good for my career. He even shut down his company in Poland when I was 16 so that he could go with me to Belgium. My family really taught me the value of working hard. Without hard work, your dreams won’t come true. When it comes to football, there are certain sacrifices you have to make – but I don’t think there has been a time when I didn’t want to play. Because if I didn’t feel like going to training, or I was tired, or there was another reason, then I’d think to myself that I have to go and work hard so that I can get better.”

“My dad inspired my love of football. He took me to my first training session. When I was younger, I went to his games. He played amateur football with friends. He used to take me to his games so I could then watch him play. He is my inspiration. My family have been vital to my career from the start right up until now, as have my friends. I have friends that support me, and they do so with all their hearts. I know they watch my games too. I love it when they have the chance to come to a game and cheer me on from the stands.”

“Before I moved to Arsenal, I spoke at length with my family, as well as with my agent and my girlfriend. We met up together a few times to talk everything through, so that it wasn’t just me who made the decision, but everyone together. I wanted to know what everyone in my family thought about this move.”

“There were lots of reasons [to join Arsenal]. The league for one. I knew Arsenal were a huge club and it’d be a big challenge for me, but ultimately, you have to rise to these immense challenges. Arsenal are a great club, that was apparent when I saw the training complex, the stadium. Pretty much everything off the pitch is top quality. Also the fans.”

“For me, that’s something very important. If you’re playing at home or on the road and you hear your fans chanting, it really energizes and inspires you to give even more. It also puts fatigue or other things in the back of your mind. So, it’s crucial for me that the fans are with you and they support you as well as they do here.”

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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