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14 Sep 2016
The secret behind the rebirth of a champion...
After two years away from the Polish National team, beach soccer fans all over the world will have been surprised to see Boguslaw Saganowski’s name back on the team sheet for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifier in Jesolo.
Many, no doubt, asked the same questions: What can he give to the team now? Is he fit enough? Can he deliver at a World Cup Qualifier after so many months away?
But ‘Sagan’, a born beach soccer fighter and a gritty competitor, proved any doubters wrong on the Italian sands this month.
Not only did he lead Poland to their second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup by upsetting the likes of Ukraine and Russia, he also inspired wins against Italy and Switzerland en route to lifting the title, while being named the competition’s MVP.
Two years ago, Saganowski had all but given up on beach soccer, and impressive displays such as the ones in Jesolo seemed little more than a pipe dream.
It was a tough time for the Polish skipper.
“I had personal and physical problems, and I was not 100 per cent focused on beach soccer,” he told Beach Soccer Worldwide.
“My mind was not there, and obviously this was reflected on the sand. I could not keep playing in those conditions.”
After some months, he managed to address most of the issues that were proving problematic.
In short, he got a new life, a new family life that got him back on track, and this new life had one name. Well, two: Urszula Sikorska.
Urszula and Sagan’s love story began more than 20 years ago. They met in primary school and what began as a good friendship became something else.
While their lives followed different paths after high school, she remained something of a constant and, when they met again years later, the spark returned.
“She came back to my life at the right time, and the right place,” Saganowski added.
“After 20 years, it was amazing to see that the love we felt for each other was still burning. That moment changed everything.”
Not only did Urszula provide the quietness, calmness and peace he needed, but also the spirit and fight to become the competitor he wanted to be.
With a burning ambition to feature at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifier, and maybe even the main competition, Saganowski hit the gym.
Endless hours of physical preparation five days a week, alongside Poland training, helped deliver the Saganowski of old in time for Jesolo.
Even a painful shoulder injury against Russia could not keep him from helping his side achieve what seemed all but impossible before the competition.
“I want to be there at least one more minute! Let me in, please!”, Saganowski shouted to the sidelines while clutching his right arm, imploring his coach to ignore the advice of the doctors shaking their heads close by and let him play.
But, shielding his arm against tough, physical marking from the Russian defenders, Saganowski marked his return to top form by firing home the goal that sent Poland to the World Cup - a decade on from their last qualification in 2006.
In the Bahamas, Saganowski will again lead Poland the only way he knows how - with strength, passion and a competitive spirit that makes him an example for team-mates and competitors alike.
And, as ever, Urszula will offer all her support.