Lukasz Fabianski exclusive interview: From struggling at Arsenal to starring for West Ham
When he steps out at Villa Park on Monday Night Football, lukasz Fabianski will soon be creating his 81st Premier League begin. It’s a run that stretches back into his penultimate season at Swansea and reveals the consistency and reliability which have come to define as a goalkeeper.
In addition, it reveals how far he’s come. Last summer west Ham fans welcomed his arrival and that the 7m cost has been more than justified by his subsequent performances. Nevertheless, it is not such a long time ago, throughout his fraught years with Arsenal, he was seen.
Fabianski recalls the pressure building. He recalls brooding on his own errors and waiting patiently for his chances. It’s five years since he left the Emirates Stadium, but on a bright afternoon in West Ham’s east London practice ground, he remembers the criticism – and the feeling of knowing how to manage it.
“It was a enormous challenge, emotionally,” he informs Sky Sports. “I had come from Poland and the focus on you’re much bigger when you get into the Premier League, therefore everything was doubled or tripled. There were times when I struggled to deal with the criticism. It is a procedure andin my case, it took a little time to understand how to deal with it.”
Fabianski’s final action as the Arsenal player was supposed to help them win the FA Cup at 2014 – their first trophy in a decade – but he left having only played with 32 Premier League matches. Every error put him farther from the No 1 shirt he coveted, and also the situation made it hard for him to put them .
“I needed to prove myself to the pitch, however I did not have many chances, so it put a whole lot more stress on each and every game that I played,” he says. “I found myself in circumstances where I had been so keen to reveal my qualities, but a lot of times it worked against me and I was punished for being too excited.
“I believe what happens if you don’t play regularly is that most of the small things which are extremely critical for our position really are a tiny bit away. This past year When I started pre-season, I might feel a tiny difference. Your time is not your own feeling of this game, there, your distances. When I made the choice to leave Arsenal, it was based on that.”
As for the criticism, Fabianski was finally able to utilize it like an extra motivation. “That is the way I approached it,” he states. “I never talked about it at a ways, but inside of me I felt like this was really one of the things which helped. This was something that drove me to secure.
“Over time I believe I have developed a better knowledge of being a goalkeeper – and I am on and off the pitch. I mean to manage certain conditions, the way to prepare how to read the game. I believe I needed to leave Arsenal to perform this. I needed a new challenge in my life and I am very pleased with how things have gone from this instant.”
Fabianski is a picture of bliss now. It is still here, although it had been at Swansea that he reconstructed his standing, missing only three Premier League matches in four decades below no fewer than five different managers in London with West Ham, that he has taken his game to another level.
Fabianski was appointed the player of the year of West Ham last season. According to Opta, he made more saves in the leading leagues of Europe than any other goalkeeper. “It is not merely about his performances throughout the games,” said Manuel Pellegrini,”but also his performances every day of the week.”
Indeed, whilst a lot is owed by the improvement of Fabianski to the stability it also boils down to a more meticulous approach to preparation. His”better understanding of being a goalkeeper” can be found in the dedication and professionalism with which he or she trains.
“I have the idea that if you put yourself through challenging, comprehensive training, and you put a lot of attention into each of the small details – the analysis of the resistance, the motion and comprehension of the sport, the way that your opponent plays then you certainly should not be fearful of making mistakes.
“That’s what I always attempt to describe to myself before games because there are always some kind of nerves. Mistakes can always happen, but in the event that you can ask yourself whether you are ready on your mind and the answer is yes, as you are aware that you’ve done all the hard work, then you’ve done your job, and that means you are ready to go.”
Fabianski is thankful to the team at Swansea – Javier Garcia and especially Tony Roberts – for instilling that mindset in him. In West Ham, however, his evolution has gathered speed under the reputed goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero, whose decorated CV contains charms at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Liverpool of Pellegrini.
“I have been fortunate that, in the last several years, I’ve always had goalkeeping coaches who’ve been so detailed in their work. They’ve pushed me to do more and more to raise my game’s amount. I’ve always been a person who is – it is another thing that drives me but I’ve had coaches who’ve been even more like this.
“Xavi has a terrific reputation and I’m not surprised. It has opened my mind more. It was funny because in my very first few days or weeks he did not really talk about my match to me, so I assumed he has to be happy. But we had this assembly, he showed me a few videos and said,’Listen, you have to do so, this and that .’ I was like,’Jesus, okay, here we go again.'”
As he recounts the story fabianski yells, but he’s adopted the methods of Valero and they have paid off.
Last season, Fabianski’s saves were high on quality as well as quantity. According to Opta’s data for anticipated aims, he conceded 12 goals fewer than that he ought to have, based on the standard of opportunities he faced. Things could have been a whole lot worse to West Ham. No Premier League goalkeeper was valuable to their side.
He is quick to point out that shot-stopping isn’t the focus of the work with Valero, although the numbers are a source of satisfaction to Fabianski. The Spaniard is much more enthusiastic about the finer aspects of goalkeeping.
“He really loves positioning, he enjoys decision-making and the calmness when it comes to making decisions,” says Fabianski. “Together with the positioning, I’m not talking about where you put yourself on your mailbox, but also the way that your body contour is. Matters such as which foot is currently facing forwards.
“It’s really, really thorough stuff. You may think you are in a good position, but he will explain to you how you could maintain a better one. I like this. It may drive you a bit mad, but on the other hand you think, yeah, it is the ideal way.
“If we’re judged by the press and the fans, it shouldn’t only be on the saves because occasionally with better placement or better decisions, you can avoid creating a rescue. The sport is shifting – even the rules of this game are changing – hence which needs the goalkeeper to grow as well. The role is shifting and that is important too.”
Fabianski is judged a lot more favourably than he was at Arsenal, but does it bother him that he’s often missed in conversations about the Premier League’s greatest goalkeepers? Swansea fans loved him and he is currently cherished at West Ham, but does he feel that he deserves broader recognition?
Fabianski shakes his mind. Of learning to cope with criticism, an added bonus is that he craves praise. “It doesn’t disturb me,” he says. “As long as I have the feeling within that yeah, I have had a great season, or I have had a good match and I have been an significant part the team, then I do not need this recognition.
“For me personally, the main thing has always been the approval of the supervisor along with the goalkeeping coach. If my staff is pleased with me, if they are satisfied with me, and of course, I don’t really need the rest of the things. It’s just something that’s there, for the media and for its fans. It is something the pundits really like to talk about, but my attention is on the job onto the pitch.”
That mindset is just another reminder of just how far he’s come. Fabianski is not merely a different goalkeeper to the one who started out in English football at Arsenal, but a man . And the fantastic news for West Ham fans is that, at 34, he feels there is much more to come from him.
“I really don’t know how much I’ve got left in the tank, however, I feel good,” he states. “I just want to prepare myself and keep attempting to grow, because I think there’s always space to develop and get better. I will keep pushing. My goal is to get as much as I could from anything I have left.”
View Aston Villa vs West Ham live on Monday Night Football; Kick-off 8pm on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 7pm