Shilton's nemesis of '73 still playing, still scoring

Tomaszewski 'The Clown' took the glory, but Domarski the striker landed the telling blow on that famous night - and the keeper he beat still keeps in touch
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The Independent Football

Not much happens here in the southern province of Podkarpacka, where Debica is known mainly for its huge tyre factory. However, the town is enjoying its moment in the sunlight as host of a qualifying competition for the European Under-19 women's championship. Poland are playing Slovenia. With the crowd in full voice, the announcer asks for silence. "Please welcome our distinguished guest, the hero of Wembley, Mr Jan Domarski!"

A trim middle-aged man, wearing jeans and a dark jacket, rises from his seat. The applause is respectful, but you sense the children are not particularly impressed. At half-time, however, when Domarski walks behind the stand, he is greeted by excited handshakes from the handful of adults in the stadium.

To them, Domarski is the scorer of the most famous goal in Polish history, one more celebrated than any at the 1974 or 1982 World Cups, in both of which Poland finished third. It earned a 1-1 draw at Wembley in October 1973, which sent the Poles, at England's expense, to their first World Cup finals since 1938. It was a night that shook English football to the core, effectively ending Alf Ramsey's reign as manager and condemning the 1966 World Cup winners to years in the international wilderness.

You might expect Domarski to dine out on this single achievement for the rest of his life. However, he has never sought celebrity. His Wembley strike is the most frequently broadcast moment in his country's sporting past - it has flickered across Polish TV screens again this weekend in anticipation of Poland's final World Cup qualifying game against England at Old Trafford on Wednesday - yet he could walk down many Polish streets without being recognised.

That is in strict contrast to some of his former colleagues. Jan Tomaszewski, the goalkeeper labelled a "clown" by Brian Clough, made a career as a television and newspaper commentator, Grzegorz Lato became an MP, Kazimierz Deyna appeared in the film Escape to Victory and Henryk Kasperczak became an international coach.

Domarski, meanwhile, was appointed head of his local coaches' association. It was as a senior local administrator that he was invited to join the organising committee for the Debica women's tournament last month as a "match co-ordinator".

A lively 58-year-old, he still plays half-a-dozen times a month for a veterans' team. "The adrenalin doesn't flow quite like it used to, but I still love playing and scoring," Domarski said, keeping one eye on the match at the Stadion Miejski. "If I'm not playing I'm always at a match every weekend. I couldn't live without football. It's still the central thing in my life. It's something my family have had to cope with."

Apart from a spell with Nîmes at the end of his professional career, Domarski has lived all his life in Rzeszow, a modest city of 150,000 people deep in the impoverished south. The son of a railway worker, he played for his local club and for nearby Stal Mielec.

"The fact that I come from this region meant that I was never going to be a celebrity," he said with the smile that frequently lights up his face. "It's probably much the same in England; the further you play away from the centre the harder it is to make an impact.

"I'm not saying I wouldn't like to be popular, but I think I would find it very tiring to be a big celebrity. Tomaszewski and Lato are different kinds of people. That lifestyle is more natural to them. Besides, they were more central to the Poland team than I ever was."

Domarski scored twice (his other goal was against Wales) and played 17 times for Poland, often owing his place to Wlodzimierz Lubanski's injuries. He came on as a substitute for the legendary striker 10 minutes into the second half of the World Cup qualifying victory over England in Chorzow in June 1973. Lubanski, carrying an injury which was to give Domarski his chance in the return match four months later, had done his job, having dispossessed Bobby Moore on the halfway line to score Poland's killer second goal.

The Poles went to Wembley with low expectations. "England had just beaten Austria 7-0 and we feared a similar result," Domarski said. "We were only just finding our way in international football. Most of us had very little experience of playing outside Poland. None of us had played in a World Cup. But England were complacent. I think they felt they would sweep us aside."

England dominated from the start, but Tomaszewski played the game of his life and Ramsey's men became increasingly anxious. The Poles had hardly crossed the halfway line when Lato took the ball off Norman Hunter near the touchline early in the second half.

"I just ran straight for the penalty area," Domarski recalled. "Lato was very quick and I knew I had to be there in support. When he passed to me, I hit the ball first time. I didn't think about it at the time, but when I see the goal now on video I'm relieved that I shot when I did. If I'd tried to control the ball I don't think I would have scored."

The ball crept under the body of Peter Shilton, who was partially unsighted by Emlyn Hughes's challenge on Domarski but who later admitted that he had made a mistake - surely the biggest of his career - in trying to catch the ball rather than parry it.

"Should Shilton have saved it?" Domarski pondered. "Probably. But I hit the ball well and I think I caught him by surprise by striking it early."

When Allan Clarke equalised from the penalty spot six minutes later Domarski feared the game might turn, but England continued to miss their chances. "I think nerves got to them in the end. If England had scored first I think they would have won.

"The one thing that saddened me at the end was the attitude of the England team. They didn't show us any respect. I tried to swap shirts with one of the England players - I don't remember who it was - but he refused. I don't remember any of their players exchanging shirts with us or shaking our hands. Then the England players failed to turn up at the post-match reception. It wasn't right."

Domarski, however, is not the sort to bear grudges. He cherishes the Christmas card he receives every year from Shilton - "please send my best wishes to him in your article because he's a very nice man" - and is looking forward to attending Wednesday's match for only his second visit to England since 1973.

"I went a couple of years ago," he said. "It was just a social trip, though we fitted in a game at Windsor which a friend organised. We won 2-1." Did he score? "Of course. Lubanski scored the other." Some things never change.