Vegetable packer turned pro footballer describes path towards dream career
- Credit: Archant
A Polish man who moved to Soham to earn money packing vegetables after picking up a career-threatening injury has spoken about his path to footballing stardom.
Mateusz Kuzimski joined his local club Unia Tczew and was on the verge of reaching the professional game in his home country as a teenager.
But having earned a low wage while in Poland, Kuzimski sustained a serious knee injury which laid doubt on his long-term future in the game.
However, he was granted a lifeline after his girlfriend’s sister, who worked in England, said she could find him a job at a warehouse.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to move, but I knew I needed to work normally,” Kuzimski told the BBC.
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“I began on the first line, cleaning. After a couple of weeks, I was promoted to the second line, preparing and packing.”
Having spent between 10 and 15 hours lifting celeriac for six months, Kuzimski, who idolised Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry, aimed to pave a way for a return to football.
After taking part in an open trial for unsigned footballers, the forward moved to Cambridge City of the Southern League Premier Division, before switching to neighbours Histon, where he made 30 appearances during the 2014-15 season.
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“Every day, after the warehouse, I was trying to improve myself,” he said.
“I realised that I can’t give up. Yes, I had a knee injury, but I needed to try, try, try again and chase my dreams.”
After returning to Poland for a holiday, Kuzimski received an offer to play at Baltyk Gydnia in 2015 who were battling for promotion to the third tier of Polish football, despite earning less than what he received at the warehouse.
Having impressed at his new club, Kuzimski moved through the leagues before joining second tier Chojniczanka last season, which earned him a spot at Warta Poznan in the Ekstraklasa, Poland’s premier division, this summer.
The ex-Histon man has impressed in Poznan so far, but if he is to line up for the Polish national team one day, there is one place he would definitely thank.
“Working in the warehouse built me as man and as a footballer,” he said.
“I realised that football is the main thing for me. I think about it a lot, and it was a very good lesson for me and my life.”