Today’s rumor was that Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny may be sent out on loan to Roma. Szczesny was Arsenal’s top goalkeeper for the past few years, but he fell from grace this past season when he made some pretty egregious errors in the January match against Southampton, after which he made the much more egregious error of smoking a cigarette in the team showers after the game. After that, David Ospina was selected as the keeper for every Premier League game, and Wojciech Szczesny was selected only for the FA Cup matches, much less frequently played.
For the two recent years that Arsenal competed in the FA Cup all the way to the Final, Arsene Wenger has stood by his FA Cup goalkeeper, allowing the keeper that got Arsenal to the Final to play in the Final. He did this even in 2014, when the keeper who had played in the FA cup games, Lukasz Fabianski, had already announced he was leaving Arsenal. Many people felt that he should have selected Szczesny, then considered the best Arsenal keeper. And in the 2015 Cup Final, he selected Szczesny as the goalkeeper, cigarette smoking in the shower and all.
To add to Szczesny’s recent problems, he has a Dad problem. His father is Maciej Szczesny, a former professional goalkeeper, known for popping up to criticise the Arsenal coaching staff or the defence in the press, making his son’s professional life somewhat complicated. For example, in 2013, when Szczesny had been temporarily rested after a few disappointing performances, his father suggested that his son’s loss of form was because Wenger had played him while he was injured. More recently, after the aforementioned Southampton game, he said that the fault was as much the defenders’, adding that central defender Per Mertesacker (our BFG) had displayed the “agility of a rhino.” And before the 2015 FA Cup, as it was being actively debated which goalkeeper would start (remembering that Szczesny had a leg up, having got the team that far), his father was again quoted in the press, saying that his son had been treated unfairly by Arsenal. Szczesny had apparently had enough of his father’s commentary. On his Facebook page, he posted the following message.
Really shouldn’t be dealing with this one day before the cup final but my father leaves me no choice.I have not spoken to him in more than 2 years and just like everybody else I have had enough of his idiotic comments about The Football Club and The Manager I owe so much to! Therefore please do not consider his comments as my shared view. Thank You for your understanding!
You feel for Wojciech. Imagine if your mom showed up at work to complain about how your boss had treated you. Many times. And extend it out: what kind of a parent would repeatedly make trouble like that for their child? The answer is: an imperfect one. Not even just a little less than perfect, but way, way imperfect. And let’s face it. Those quotes by his father to the press are probably the tip of the proverbial iceberg. When I read what Szczesny had to say on his Facebook page, I could understand his response completely. Still, I couldn’t help noting it was sad. Sad to have reason, good or bad, not to speak to a parent for several years.
As I have mentioned before, my father passed away this year. My sister encouraged me to write the eulogy for his memorial service, but I just didn’t have the words to do it. My other sister and my niece managed this sad task and each did a beautiful job. I still can’t and won’t try do it justice, but understand this: my father was a model father, wonderful from the beginning to the end. He embarrassed me a few times, but isn’t that the definition a model father? So I can’t understand from personal experience what it is to have a parent that you choose to distance yourself from. I do know that my father had such a parent. His father, as best as as I understand it, returned from World War I emotionally damaged, and turned to alcohol to heal himself. His behavior destroyed the fabric of his family, and he died young, when my father was in his early teens. My father once said that when his own father died, he felt sorry for his mother but he didn’t feel much for himself.
As sad as that sounds, something about having an unhealthy parent must have inspired him to be a healthy parent of the highest order. He showed that it’s possible to be positively inspired by good or bad experiences.
Wojciech Szczesny’s father may be toxic and someone you wouldn’t want to have be a big part in your life, but life is short and family is one thing that remains with you forever, even if only in your memory. It’s so much better to have at least a few good or neutral memories. And we know this: his father watches his games and cares enough to defend him. Not in the best way, which would be in his head and not out loud, but in the way he can. People we love disappoint us, and sometimes the only way to get by is to forgive. This isn’t for them only; it’s for our own peace of mind.
Why would Szczesny listen to me, someone who knows far less than half the story and is a semi-anonymous, old lady, newbie blogger? (Yes, of course he reads this blog! Do you doubt it?) Still, my unsolicited advice is this: find some way, however small, to have your father in your life. Wojciech Szczesny, call your Dad.