After seven years at Arsenal FC, where he competed for a first-team place with compatriot Wojciech Szczęsny, goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański is beginning a new adventure with Premier League rivals Swansea City AFC. In an exclusive interview with UEFA.com, the 29-year-old – who moved to England from Legia Warszawa in 2007 – reflects on his ups and downs in north London.
UEFA.com: You spent seven years at Arsenal, but your memories must be bittersweet because you only played 78 games for the club.
Łukasz Fabiański: That's true, I did not play as many matches as I hoped, but I have never regretted the move to Arsenal. I joined a big club and although I wanted to play more, I had some unforgettable moments with the Gunners.
My top three matches? In first place, the Champions League match against Bayern in March. Before that game, I had been absent for a long time and most people thought I was finished at Arsenal, but I grabbed the chance and played well. It gave me lot of satisfaction. My second favourite game would be the FA Cup tie against Liverpool this season [2-1, FA Cup fifth round]; I had a lot to do in that match but managed to help the team get through. I rate that game even higher than the semi-final against Wigan in which I saved two penalties! And last but not least, my first game for Arsenal. It was in the League Cup against Newcastle [25 September 2007]. People can say it was not such a big game, but still – my first one and unforgettable for me.
UEFA.com: You got nicknamed 'Flappyhandski' in the English press ...
Fabiański: That referred to mistakes I made some years ago so I have already put those behind me. I had some poor matches, but nobody's perfect. I think I was able to learn from them and I am a better goalkeeper now.
UEFA.com: You lost out in your competition with Wojciech Szczęsny with Arsenal and the national team. Do you feel he is a better goalkeeper than you?
Fabiański: No, not at all. Of course, I made some mistakes as Arsenal goalie but I am sure that people also remember that I was unlucky with injuries. There were periods when I was first-choice keeper and was starting to consolidate my position when out of the blue I got injured. It happened a few times and it really unsettled me.
My position in the national team was not very strong as I was always a squad player. That is one of the main reasons I have changed club – I want to play every week as I know it will help me to fight for the Polish No1 shirt. This is my priority. I will not be happy just to be on the bench.
UEFA.com: You and Szczęsny are rivals, but it is nice that you never forget his birthday ...
Fabiański: That is true, but easy to explain: we have the same birthday, 18 April. Did we exchange gifts or celebrate together? No, nothing like that. We just gave each other best wishes.
UEFA.com: Your period at Arsenal was not perfect, but your final game – the 3-2 FA Cup final win against Hull City AFC – was a great way to sign off.
Fabiański: I could not have dreamed for a better last match – the cup final, a first trophy for the club in so many years. It was a perfect farewell. I already knew I was playing for the last time in an Arsenal shirt and I am extremely happy that I did it in such special circumstances. Of course, it was a shock to be 2-0 down after eight minutes. Nobody expected that. But when we scored our first goal, I became really calm and was pretty sure we could win the game.
UEFA.com: Is it true that the club wanted you to stay after your contract expired?
Fabiański: In December I told them I would leave in the summer. And here I would like to say thank you for the great behaviour of the coach and whole club. They knew I was leaving but they allowed me to play cup games till the end. Because of that, I had opportunity to play a very special goodbye game and to take part in the street celebrations the next day. I was so happy to see all those Arsenal fans.
Even two days after the cup final, when I came to the training ground to say goodbye to all the Arsenal people, I was asked again whether it was my final decision because if I changed my mind they still wanted me to stay. It was an important gesture for me as it showed me I had gained respect from the boss and other people at Arsenal.
UEFA.com: Why did you choose Swansea as your next destination?
Fabiański: I had four serious offers. When I decided to leave Arsenal, I also decided that I would only be interested in playing in England or Germany. Why Swansea? I think it is the best place for me to make progress. I like the way the club operate. They are building new facilities, they want to make their stadium bigger and they are consolidating their position in English football. I am really glad I will be part of this project – an important part, I hope.
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