Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland's "George Best"

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Wacaday republics on the brain, a flair for backpacking to countries that don’t exist and a pure fire passion for Northern Irish football were the golden love affairs that I cannon-balled my tourist journey with. I interwined travel with football with as many references to being Northern Irish as the Ulster Fry could come up with. But now my story is in Poland, passion digs deeper and deeper into a country so frightfully under-estimated.

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

When you tear my walls down, I’m a glorified George Best football fan living in Poland and always looking for an insane adventure. Any excuse to be a buck eejit for a day. Enter this football legend, right here. Kazimierz Deyna. This boy’s a hero. Hailing from Poland’s underestimated and less ventured Starogard Gdański, he set the world on fire. In the same way that Belfast Child George Best did. The similarities are uncanny. Perhaps I had been searching for this kind of story and then it just came like that, ready for my latest series on here, Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce, football stories related to Poland. Let’s compare Kazik Deyna and Geordie Best first up….

Kazik Deyna Starogard1

Kazik Deyna, Starogard Boy

Kazimierz Deyna/ Kazik
From: Starogard Gdański, POLAND
23 October 1947 – 1 September 1989
Died: Age 41
Attacking midfielder with flair
Dark hair
Sideburns
Pin-up boy
Recognised as probably the most gifted Polish footballer ever
Played for: Manchester City, Legia Warszawa, ŁKS Łódź, Włókniarz Starogard Gdański, San Diego Sockers
Top Scorer in the Olympics in 1972
World Player of the Year Bronze 1974
Twice Olympic Gold Medal Winner
World Cup Third Place in 1974
Played in United States before he retired
Suffered from alcoholism
Has a mural in his hometown dedicated to him
Has a football stadium named after him
Slogan: Legendeyna
Excellent Website on Deyna: http://legendadeyny.pl/

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Geordie Best, Belfast Boy

Geordie Best, Belfast Boy

George Best/ Georgie, Geordie
From: Belfast, NORTHERN IRELAND
22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005
Died: Age 59
Attacking midfielder with flair
Dark hair
Sideburns
Pin-up boy
Recognised as probably the most gifted Northern Irish footballer ever
Played for: Manchester United, AFC Bournemouth, Hibernian, Dunstable Town, Fortlauderdale Strikers (amongst others)
World Player of the Year Bronze 1971
European Player of the Year 1968
Manchester United’s top Goalscorer 6 seasons in a row
Played in United States before he retired
Suffered from alcoholism
Has a mural in his hometown dedicated to him
Has an airport named after him
Slogan: “Maradona Good, Pele Better, George Best”
Official George Best Website: http://www.georgebest.com/

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Kazik Deyna for Poland

George Best for Northern Ireland

I arrived in the town of Starogard Gdański in July 2016, to do my usual sightseeing of an unusual town and try the bars and cafes out for my travel stories. As well as Deyna’s story, my journey was inspired by a travel friend (the infamous Ola Mueller) who was meant to meet me and show me her town, but decided to lie to me instead. None the less, I was keen to explore it on my own and meet new friends. Which I did, with some aplomb. I ended up staying in the trendy Noclegi Rekord which overlooks the town’s football stadium – yes the stadium not only named after Deyna himself but with a statue of the man in the stands. To this day, Kazimierz Deyna is a huge hero, and he hails from this town – Starogard Gdański. Notably some Deyna “sightseeing” already appeared on my best sights in Starogard Gdanski article.

The main train station in Deyna’s town – Starogard Gdanski

Thankfully, the local council in Starogard Gdański are aware of the impact Deyna made and have a touristic “pilgrimage tour” which is a self guided tour in 5 steps on a pleasant walk through the town. I don’t know for sure, but perhaps I am the first foreign travel writer to cover this tour and the Legia Deyna sights in such a way. I had to do it. It was a story begging to be written!

Zoff…Deyna!

Banks…Best!

I decided I had to do the tour and was pretty excited by it. The reason being that Kazimierz Deyna has a canny resemblence to George Best. Both were heroes in their country, both played for a Manchester team, both had good looks and were popular amongst the ladies (in fact they look very alike in my opinion), both had problems with alcoholism, both ended their playing careers in the USA and both have a mural of themselves in their hometowns. So off I headed on a Kazimierz Deyna pilgrimage, with a Northern Ireland flag and shirt on too.

Deyna in action

Best in action

1.Kazimierz Deyna Mural, ulica Lubichowksa 86
The tour all begins at the impressive Kazimierz Deyna Mural in his hometown of Starogard itself. It is on a prominent wallside on Lubichowska 86.

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

2.Kazimierz Deyna Childhood Home/ Dom Rodzinnie
The mural on the wall here isn’t just spontaneous though – this is on the side of the exact house where Kazik was born and grew up. Reading the notes, I also learn that he was the 6th child of 10 children. Two of his brothers also played football and his sister was sporty too.

Kazimierz Deyna Childhood Home/ Dom Rodzinnie

Kazimierz Deyna Childhood Home/ Dom Rodzinnie

3.Kazimierz Deyna’s Primary School, Szkoła Podstawowa
The walk follows an easy pattern, you can see below on the dotted red lines – it’s an simple pilgrimage to follow. Next, we end up next on Jan Pawla II street and at Kazik’s old primary school, it’s sight number 2 on this top 5, but it’s number 3 on my list as I included the mural and his home separately.

Kazimierz Deyna’s Primary School, Szkoła Podstawowa

Kazimierz Deyna's Primary School, Szkoła Podstawowa

Kazimierz Deyna’s Primary School, Szkoła Podstawowa

There is more information on this website – http://legendadeyny.pl/informacja-turystyczna/

4.Stadion Włókniarz
I was quite surprised to see this place at the back of the park. It is a SECOND stadium in the town to be named after Kazimierz Deyna and the second one I visited. It is smaller and not as easily accessible for the public. I found more information on the town’s website as my local friend Ola (and expected tour guide) wasn’t helpful to me. However, I can always go back and watch a match here someday.

Stadion Włókniarz, Deyna tribute in Starogard Gdanski

Due to the fact they play in green, I also decided to make Klub Pilkarski Starogard my team of choice in Poland. Although my friends Rafal, Kuba, Piotr and Kamil are all big Legia Warszawa fans so they might disown me!

Klub Pilkarski Starogard Gdanski

Klub Pilkarski Starogard Gdanski

5.Dom Rodzinny (ulica Grunwaldzka 7)
When Deyna returned back to Starogard Gdanski in 1972 with the impressive Olympic Gold Medal and top scorer with 9 to show for it, this was his family’s new home. Despite the fact that I walked along Grunwaldzka a few times (on my hat-trick of visits to the town so far), I didn’t actually take any photos of this house, so I took this one from his website. Next time, I’ll be sure to selfie this just to add my photo to this page.

Deyna’s Home after returning with his Olympic Gold Medal

6.Deyna Stadium and Statue (Stadion Miejski im. Kazimierza Deyny)
After all those sights in Starogard Gdanski, we now get to the bigger stadium, named after Kazimierz Deyna himself. I loved this stadium. It felt like a textbook Irish League or Lower Division English League ground.

Deyna Stadium and Statue (Stadion Miejski im. Kazimierza Deyny)

Deyna Stadium and Statue (Stadion Miejski im. Kazimierza Deyny)

Deyna Statue in the Stadium (Stadion Miejski)

Deyna Stadium and Statue (Stadion Miejski im. Kazimierza Deyny)

Deyna Stadium and Statue (Stadion Miejski im. Kazimierza Deyny)

As well as staying in the hotel here, I was able to stand on the pitch and see the Deyna statue in the stands. This is somewhat of a novelty – an actual statue of Deyna sitting in the seat!

Deyna Statue in the Stadium (Stadion Miejski im. Kazimierza Deyny)

Deyna Statue in the Stadium (Stadion Miejski)

7.Noclegi Rekord Mini Museum
When I went to check into my room at the Noclegi Rekord Hotel, I had no idea that the walk up and the lounge was an entire museum to Kazimierz Deyna! This was amazing and in such a small stadium too – they have made a great effort. Superb work!

Noclegi Rekord Mini Deyna Museum

Noclegi Rekord Mini Deyna Museum

Noclegi Rekord Mini Deyna Museum

Noclegi Rekord Mini Deyna Museum

Noclegi Rekord Mini Deyna Museum

Noclegi Rekord Mini Deyna Museum

8.Kazimierz Deyna Cardboard Cut Out
A novelty is to selfie yourself with the Kazimierz Deyna cut out. I am still baffled as to why on my three days in this hotel and museum (and my later 2 visits) how I didn’t selfie myself with this Kazik Deyna! I even ate my breakfast next to it one morning.

The Deyna Cardboard cut out

2016’s Olympic Medal winner Oktawia Nowacka also hails from Starogard Gdanski and she famously selfied herself with Kazik.You can follow Oktawia on Twitter and Instagram – a very passionate lady.

Oktawia Nowacka with her gold Medal

Oktawia Nowacka with her gold Medal

Oktawia Nowacka and Kazik Deyna - Starogard Olympic Medal Winers.

Oktawia Nowacka and Kazik Deyna – Starogard Olympic Medal Winers.

My claim to fame is sharing a front page with Oktawia Nowacka when my backpacking story of Starogard appeared in the Gazeta Kociewska.

Dziwaczne Odkrycia: The time I shared a front page with an Olympic Medal winner in Gazeta Kociewska, Starogard Gdański

9.Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord
I had to spend a few nights in the Hotel that overlooked the stadium, the same hotel that has the tribute and museum. Officially the hotel is not owned or affiliated with Deyna, it is called the Noclegi Rekord and you might have read my review of it. But it does have a huge banner for him hanging up, and of course the museum within.

Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord

Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord

This is the “backpacker option” for tourists in Starogard. My room was Soviet style and basic, but very cosy and charming. Plus from my bedroom, I had a view out to the Deyna statue and stadium!

Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord

Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord

Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord

Kazimierz Deyna’s Hotel – Noclegi Rekord

10.Kazimierz Deyna Statue, Legia Stadion, Warszawa
My Kazimierz Deyna tour went full circle and also reached an impressive halt on the day of love 2017. On 14th February 2017, I headed back to the Legia Warsaw stadium. It was here where a local PR girl randomly gave me a heart. With a love for football and right next to the Deyna statue I took a self-portrait. Within minutes, by mistake, the heart had gone from my hand and disappeared up into the sky.

Kazimierz Deyna Statue, Legia Stadion, Warszawa

Kazimierz Deyna Statue, Legia Stadion, Warszawa

Into the heavens where George Best and Kazimierz Deyna play football in the clouds.

11.Deyna Plaque, Legia Stadion
I guess it is nice to finish this article with a “number 11” as it is a complete football team then. So I also visited the Legia Warszawa Stadium, including the official fan store, the famous Zyleta store, the bar and the plaque of Kazik Deyna. There is more to come on this story and in my football series. I hope you enjoyed it – whether Polish, Northern Irish or you just love good footballers!

Deyna Plaque, Legia Stadion

Some more photos from my Deyna pilgrimage…

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazimierz_Deyna

Full name Kazimierz Deyna
Date of birth 23 October 1947
Place of birth Starogard Gdański, Poland
Date of death 1 September 1989 (aged 41)
Place of death San Diego, California, United States
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Attacking Midfielder
Youth career
1958–1966 Włókniarz Starogard Gdański
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1966 ŁKS Łódź 1 (0)
1966–1978 Legia Warsaw 304 (93)
1978–1981 Manchester City 38 (12)
1981–1984 San Diego Sockers 90 (44)
1981–1987 San Diego Sockers (indoor) 169 (118)
Total 602 (267)
National team
1968 – 1978 Poland 97 (41)

As a Northern Irishman and a supporter of three teams that George Best once played for (Glentoran FC, AFC Bournemouth and Northern Ireland), obviously I always say that George Best was the best footballer ever. However, when you watch the videos of Deyna, for me he is in the top 10 of all time along with the likes of Maradona, Johann Cruyff, Pele and Zinedine Zidane. We must also remember that Boniek, Lato and Tomaszewski were all part of a totally legendary Polish team during the 1970s and 1980s. They should have won the World Cup, the Euros. They were twice Olympic Gold medalists in that era. Lato was once top scorer in the World Cup. Check these achievements out, 14 years in Polish football of 2 Golds and 2 World Cup third places!:

1972 Olympics – Won Olympic Gold medal. Deyna scored both goals in the 2-1 Final win over Hungary. Deyna scored 9 goals in the entire tournament and was top scorer.
1974 World Cup – Finished third in World Cup, winning their group on maximum points, including a 7-0 win over Haiti and wins over Argentina and Italy! In the next round, they beat Sweden and Yugoslavia before bowing out to West Germany. Poland beat Brazil 1-0 to finish third. Lato scored 7 and was top scorer in the entire tournament. Deyna scored 3.
1976 Olympics – Finished second in Olympics, losing 3-1 to East Germany in the final. Andrzej Szarmach was top scorer in the entire tournament. Deyna scored 1.
1978 World Cup – Despite winning their group and playing great football, Deyna missed a penalty at 0-0 v. Argentina and Poland went out at the Quarter Finals. Lato scored 2 goals, Deyna scored 1.
1982 World Cup – Finished third in World Cup, beating France in the third place play-off.
1986 World Cup – Lost to Brazil in Last 16 of World Cup, after ousting Portugal from the group stage.

Poland won their group in 1974 World Cup, scoring 12 goals

Poland won their group in 1974 World Cup, scoring 12 goals

I will have more stories about Polish football and the Northern Irish links too, I have now been to 5 Northern Ireland v. Poland encounters (3 in Belfast, 1 in Warsaw and 1 in Nice, France). I have also watched the Polish top flight on a few occasions – Lechia Gdansk and Legia Warszawa.

Watching Lechia Gdansk near my old flat in Brzezno, Gdansk

Watching Lechia Gdansk near my old flat in Brzezno, Gdansk

Watching Legia Warszawa with the lads, February 2017

Outside the new Stadion Narodowy, Warszawa

Some other useful Kazimierz Deyna Links:

Legia Warszawa Museum News

Starogard Gdański Deyna Museum News

Deyna Biography

Legendeyna

Here are some brilliant videos of Kazimierz Deyna – if you are ever in Poland – do the Deyna pilgrimage. Respect to a true football hero here in Poland!

5 thoughts on “Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce: On the Kazimierz Deyna Pilgrimage Tour in Starogard Gdański, Poland’s “George Best”

  • Hi Jonny, Wow! This is an excellent article. Thanks again for your video and so many positive things about Starogard Gdanski. I feel really ashamed and embarrassed because I pretended we were friends and was the first “friend” on your journey to disrespect your trips to unusual towns – now I realise you do it all the time and you only expected me to help with tips and meet for coffee, food etc. If Truong, Evgenia etc. also come to Starogard to write about it and meet me, I will do the same to them – I will also lie to them so don’t take it personally and don’t kill yourself. I want the best for you. Best wishes as always, Ola.

    • Hi Ola/Aleksandra, thanks for the comment. Yes, you have caused 9 months (and counting) of my depression and suicide with your lies, but I am strong man and will try and beat it. If you ever want to apologise to me, in my faith we forgive – what you did was truly horrible to anyone you class as a “friend”, you should be ashamed of yourself. But on the positive side, your lies led me to decide to live and work in Poland and I have a new project and real honest friends now. If I want to tour their towns, they help me ;-), they give me sightseeing tips for my writing (not 6 weeks late you nasty girl!) and they also meet me, they do not tell lies- why did you do it? why did you try to destroy my life and my business? (Don’t Stop Living is now finished because of you) If they really can’t meet me, they don’t fake 91 hour a week jobs in Poznan, they simply let me meet their friends instead so my writing can still be strong and local. Best wishes, Jonny

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