Ipswich keeper Bialkowski staying grounded despite fulfilling ‘biggest dream’ in bid to reach World Cup
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 March 2018
Goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski is not getting carried away despite fulfiling his ‘biggest dream’ while on international duty with Poland.
The Blues keeper, called into a senior squad for the first time, made his international debut as a half-time substitute in Friday night’s 1-0 home loss to Nigeria in Wroclaw.
He is unlikely to play in tonight’s clash with South Korea, with Poland boss Adam Nawalka likely to ensure all four goalkeepers in his squad are given some gametime, but the 30-year-old was proud to have played for his country for the first time as he pushes for a place in Poland’s 2018 World Cup squad.
“This is the fulfillment of the biggest dream,” Bialkowski said in an interview in the Polish media.
“Now you have to do everything to stay in this team for as long as possible. That’s how I approach it.
“The game with an eagle on the chest is the greatest distinction for each player.
“For three years I have been regularly playing in my club every week. I also dreamed about representation before, but I did not have the right to get a call-up.
“First, I was sitting on a bench in Southampton, then there was Notts County and only the third league. For several seasons I’ve been fighting hard to get a calling.
“When I received a call-up, everyone was asking about me going to the World Cup but I have to be realistic, it’s only been my first cap.
“Of course it would be huge to go to Russia. Everyone in the club congratulated my but I keep my head cool. Every footballer wants to play at the highest possible level.”
On Victor Moses’ second-half penalty, which ultimately won the game for Nigeria, Bialkowski said: “Maybe it could be my chance to save it and shine in the debut? But then you know, every goalkeeper wants to save penalties.
“I knew he’d try to out-wait me. He watched my reactions on the line until the very end. It’s a shame about the referee’s decision but it’s history now. We can’t change it.”
Bialkowski now returns to Ipswich at a time when he has agreed, but not yet signed, a new contract, with a year remaining on his current deal in the form of an option that the Blues are certain to take.
The goalkeeper has again insisted he is in no desperate rush to leave Portman Road but would have to consider a move to the Premier League if one became available.
“I too dream about Premier League but I owe Ipswich a lot,” he said. “I won’t be doing something at any cost and I won’t put pressure on the club.
“But if the clubs make an agreement I will have to think things through, of course. I’ve still got one year left on my contract.
“I know Ipswich and Crystal Palace were in talks in January but the deal fell through as the clubs couldn’t agree the fee.”
He was also asked about Polish defender Piotr Malarczyk, who played six times for the Blues in the 2015/16 season.
“In December he came to us for a few days,” Bialkowski said of the current Korona Kielce player.
“He was immediately thrown into deep water. He arrived at two in the morning and the next day he played 45 minutes in the league match. It was hard for him to jump right into the game. The coach also had no grounds to change the defense. I think he is a very good player. I believe in him. Everything is ahead of him.”
Jonas Knudsen could also be in international action tonight when Denmark take on Chile.
The Ipswich defender, also pushing for a place at this summer’s World Cup, was an unused substitute in his side’s victory over Panama on Friday night and could get some minutes as part of a Denmark side which had three left backs on the bench in their last outing.
Flynn Downes could also play again for England Under 19s as they take on Macedonia in their European Championship qualifier.