Football The Sweeper: Adamczuk the popular exile

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The Independent Online
TONY ADAMS' withdrawal from today's European Championship qualifier against Poland at Wembley has at least saved him from a nasty touch of deja vu. As the only surviving member of England's team who played in Chorzow in 1993, he will have remembered all too well the face of Dariusz Adamczuk, the man whose goal seriously undermined England's World Cup hopes that year.

North of the border, of course, he is a much more familiar face as the much-loved speedy Dundee wing-back and, if he can repeat his feat of six years ago, no one would be more delighted for him than the Dens Park crowd. Come to think of it, he would be a popular fellow throughout Scotland if he can deal the auld enemy another mortal blow.

His goal in that World Cup qualifier would have been the winner but for a late equaliser from Ian Wright, but it was enough to put the skids under Graham Taylor's team, who four days later fell flat on their faces in Oslo, thereby relinquishing any realistic hope they had of reaching the USA 94 finals.

Adamczuk and another member of that Poland team, Peter Czachowski, joined Dundee the following season. After making just 11 league appearances Adamczuk left the club to join Udinese for pounds 500,000 and later moved to Portugal. A registration dispute saw him drop out of the game until Dundee brought him back two and a half years ago.

In that short first spell Adamczuk had developed an affinity with the club and one of the conditions that he re-signed was that they gave him a limited edition print of an old Dundee FC picture. If he plays at Wembley today - he is expected to be among the substitutes - he proposes to donate his cap and jersey to the club to help raise money to finance the ground development that must be completed by next season if Dundee are to remain in the Scottish Premier Division.

But it looks as if next season they will be without their formidable Pole, whose contract is up this summer. Now 29, he is set for a move to a bigger club and, while Rangers are favourites, they can anticipate competition from one or two Premiership clubs - particularly if Adamczuk is on target again.

NOT ALL Scotsmen, though, will be supporting the opposition at Wembley today. And if Kevin Keegan turns out to be a roaring success as England coach, the Scots will have one of their own, one Alistair Wilson, the former managing director of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, to blame.

Wilson, who is now head of sales for Rangers, was the man who persuaded Keegan to go back on his promise that he would have nothing more to do with football and return to the game after an absence of eight years, as manager of Newcastle United. It was, in fact, at the behest of the Newcastle board, but as a business associate of Keegan's he was asked to make the phone call to Keegan's villa in Spain.

"I can remember my first words, I said: `Kevin, don't shoot the messenger but Newcastle want you to go back as manager'," said Wilson. "Within seconds he was interested but naturally wanted to know a bit more about the job. Typically he wanted to dot all the i's and cross all the t's twice over."

Wilson and Keegan have remained friends ever since and the Scot insisted: "I'll be at Wembley wearing my rose with pride and cheering on England."

GIVEN THE pressure on his time, one hopes that Kevin Keegan's scouting experiences for England are more successful in future, because his only one to date was an unmitigated disaster. The only match he has been able to attend in person since his appointment as manager was Derby against Liverpool at Pride Park two weeks ago. He had gone primarily to watch Steve McManaman, who did not play, and Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, who did, but this week went home from England training injured, as did the young Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, who was called up for the experience. As for Derby, Keegan lamented that there was only one Englishman - Spencer Prior - in their side. In which case, presumably, the English- born Chris Powell and Russell Hoult can forget all about a call-up from Keegan.

WHILE CLUBS like Leeds United and Wolves may be concerned for the welfare and health of their players who are travelling to Nigeria to play in the World Youth Championship, the Mexican FA may think twice in future about sending its boys to England again, if the Latin Americans want them to come back in one piece that is.

Their Under-20 squad, who are in England preparing for the championship, played Birmingham City in a friendly at Wast Hill this week but failed to finish the match after a free-for-all broke out.

With eight minutes remaining and the Mexicans losing 5-0, their coach ushered his team from the field. Paul Furlong had scored a hat-trick and Nicky Forster and Steve Robinson a goal apiece when a challenge on the latter sparked a near riot. Birmingham's Darren Purse said: "They thought they weren't going to get much of a game but we were physical and showed them the way we play English football. They didn't like it one bit."

As you were

POLAND, POLAND, POLAND. When it matters for England, it always seems to be Poland. Kevin Keegan's men are advised to look away from the picture above, taken in October 1973 at Wembley, for fear they will become dispirited and not have the heart to perform for their new boss. No matter what England did that day, they could not assert their authority on the match, which Alf Ramsey's side needed to win to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Mick Channon (centre), is well out of it nowadays, having swapped sports to become a highly successful trainer of racehorses - he won at Doncaster yesterday with Danegold. England are the 1-2 favourites with Ladbrokes to beat Poland today, but, as Mick could tell you, backing odds- on favourites is the fast track to the poor house.

The price is right

KEVIN KEEGAN - great at rising to the bait when wound up by Alex Ferguson on the telly but, let's face it, a laughing cavalier in the strategy department as a manager unless you give him more money to spend than everyone else put together in his division. Bulgaria proved a great bet for the less-than-patriotic Sweeper to get a point at Wembley last year and Poland are similarly good value to make England struggle to gain more than a draw this afternoon. Alan Shearer has lost his pace since last season's bad knock, and Andy Cole may be all Dwight on the night at Manchester United nowadays, but he still needs three tries to be sure of hitting a barn door without a first touch. With every other decent English striker injured, just where are the goals coming from? It could also be a stalemate at Windsor Park too, where Northern Ireland look good value to hold Germany, whose ancient squad managed to top their dismal World Cup exit at the hands of Croatia by managing to get beaten by the United States recently. It pains the monetarist Sweeper to see those legendary inflation-beaters struggling at anything, but the draw looks a great bet at odds of nine euros to four.


(Two pounds 4 singles and a pounds 2 double with Stanley): England to draw with Poland (11-4); Northern Ireland to draw with Germany (9-4).

ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.

CURRENT KITTY: pounds 161.80!

TODAY'S BETS: pounds 10.90 (including tax paid on).

Mascot on the mat

Name: Hercules.

Club: Aston Villa.

Appearance: A giant lion, dressed in claret and blue.

Crime sheet: The frisky feline shot to notoriety last year when the man then inside Hercules, Gavin Lucas, was sacked by the club for hugging and kissing the club's beauty queen, Miss Aston Villa, as she was on a walkabout in front of 33,000 fans. "Perhaps it's the heat inside the suit but he does let his heart rule his head," a club spokesman said at the time, and added that Lucas had been warned previously about innappropriate behaviour. The unrepentant ex-lion impersonator vowed to keep attending matches, saying it would be more comfortable in future not having to wear his costume. The club replaced Lucas, but will not talk about it.

In mitigation, Your Honour: There are few mitigating circumstances, but the hard-line stance taken by the powers-that-be at Villa Park is a little strange to say the least. The veil of secrecy surrounding Hercules is stranger still. "We're not doing anything in the papers about the mascot at the moment," a spokeswoman said, and added that staff were under strict orders not to talk about Hercules. In case, one presumes, anyone lets the cat out of the bag.

My Team

Anna Walker

Sheffield United

Sky sports presenter

"I lived in Sheffield until I was 15 and moved back after living in Holland. I think the team you start with is your team for life. Arsenal should be congratulated for replaying the disputed FA Cup game but its a shame we couldn't have played them in the replay at Bramall Lane because we're so much better at home. I sometimes see Sean Bean at games but unlike him I don't have a "100% Blades" tattoo! I go with my family to games and my baby nephew Luke already has a United strip. I think that promotion will be a tall order. If only we'd been able to bounce straight back two seasons ago. We seem to have a knack of selling goalscorers like Jan Age Fjortoft at the critical moment."

In t'net

Found on the Web: Rapid European results

WE ARE constantly told that one of the strengths of the Internet is its capability to provide swift access to events as they unfold around the world. Too often the Net fails to deliver but a number of football sites now run rapid results updates and the Uefa site is by some way the best for European club and international matches. During Manchester United's European Cup quarter-final against Inter, this site had the goals, cards and substitutions as rapidly as 20 seconds after they happened. Even conventional news wire services can take two or three minutes. Updates on the whole of today's Euro 2000 qualifying programme should be available simultaneously on the site today, so whether you're following England against Poland, Northern Ireland against Germany (or both of them) you can keep abreast of developments as they happen.

Seen but not bought

YOU CAN do more than fry eggs in it. You can cook a pasta sauce in it, fry crepes in it, make spicy South American food in it. You can heat a pickled herring in it, simmer a paella in it and do an Edam omelette. The Chelsea non-stick frying pan (pounds 29.99).

They're not all Dennis Bergkamp

Unsung foreign

legionnaires No 32

FUMACA: The 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder is reputedly the best uncapped Brazilian in the world and moved to Barnsley on loan this week from his club, Catunese. As you would expect of a player of his status, Fumaca (real name is Jose Antunes) had trials at some of England's leading sides - including Birmingham and Grimsby - before opting for Oakwell. He also played for 15 minutes for Colchester last weekend in their 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City in the Second Division. "He came as a mystery man and left as a mystery man," a Colchester spokesman said. "He had all the skills that you'd expect from a Brazilian," he added after last week's performance, which ended prematurely with the player being carried off after suffering concussion. "We'd have loved to have kept him, but we couldn't afford to," the Colchester spokesman added. Apparently Fumaca was due to sign for Benfica recently and the only thing that stopped him was missing the Portuguese transfer deadline. So to Oakwell, where they sing "It's just like watching Brazil." It will be now.