Former Poland international and World Cup medallist Andrzej Iwan has passed away, aged 63, reports have confirmed.
Both during and after his career, Iwan was a complicated and often controversial character within Polish football; but one with an undeniable talent. Having burst into the scene as a teenager with Wisła Kraków, he was called into Jacek Gmoch’s Poland squad for the 1978 World Cup having never before played for the senior team. Prior to that he had helped the national U19 team to third place in the European Championships, held on home soil.
While he played only twice during the World Cup in Argentina, he hit a purple patch under Gmoch’s successor, Ryszard Kulesza, in 1980. He scored nine times in only six games, which established him as the national team’s main striker. During the calendar year, no other player in Europe scored more international goals.
However, when Kulesza lost his job after the Okęcie Affair, he failed to hit the same form under Antoni Piechniczek. Still, the new Selekcjoner saw him. As an important part of his 1982 World Cup squad.
Unfortunately, injury hampered Iwan’s preparations, and a disastrous hamstring tear in the Poles’ second group game against Cameroon ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament. Poland eventually finished third.
At club level, Iwan moved from Wisła to Górnik Zabrze in 1985, and then on to German club VfL Bochum two-and-a-half years later. He rounded out his career with a season in Greece with Aris Thessaloniki, interspersed with odd appearances at his former club, Górnik.
By the time of his move to West Germany, Iwan had already closed his international career. His final two appearances came under Wojciech Łazarek in October 1987, in defeats to Netherlands and Czechoslovakia. In total, he had made 29 appearances with the White Eagle on his chest, scoring eleven times.
In the early noughties, Iwan made an attempt at a managerial career – although this was short-lived. In 2003, he took the vacant role at fourth-tier Okocimski Brzeszko after spells as an assistant at both Wisła and Zagłębie Lubin. He was dismissed just less than two years later after a series of defeats. In 2021, he also briefly worked in the scouting department of his former club, Wisła.
For those who don’t remember his playing career, Iwan was perhaps more often remembered for his roles in the media. He was a co-commentator and pundit for both Orange Sport and Polsat Sport, commenting on matches in the Polish second tier.
In 2012, Iwan also published his brutally-honest autobiography, Spalony, along with journalist Krzysztof Stanowski. In the book, he not only commented about his controversial career, but also in depth about his notorious addictions to both gambling and alcohol, as well as his tragic attempts at suicide.
Iwan’s son, Bartosz, also became a footballer. He played for clubs such as Widzew Łódź, Piast Gliwice, Górnik Zabrze and GKS Katowice during his career.