Polish footballer Włodzimierz Smolarek dies aged 54

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Smolarek (behind flag) played for the Polish national team 60 times
Image: Zureks.

Włodzimierz Smolarek, a former Polish international footballer, has died aged 54 years. According to today's announcement by the Polish Football Association (Polish FA), the cause of death is unknown. He was capped 60 times for the Polish national team and was a member of the 1982 FIFA World Cup squad that came third.

"It's hard for me to imagine. Wlodek was my friend, a buddy from the field", said Polish FA President Grzegorz Lato, a former team mate of Smolarek. "He was the team's good spirit."

Zbigniew Boniek, another one of Smolarek's team mates, spoke about his death saying "We played so many games together in Widzew or with the white eagle on a Polish shirt, it is such a shame". He is the first member of the 1982 team to die.

He also played with Widzew Lodz and Legia Warsaw. He won the Polish league title with Lodz twice. He scored 65 goals in 199 games in the top flight of Polish football. He spent time playing in Germany and the Netherlands before becoming a coach, and a Polish FA youth scout.

His son Ebi Smolarek is also a footballer, having played for the ADO Den Haag and Bolton Wanderers as well as the Polish national team.