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Fabiański's fond farewell to Arsenal

As he prepares for a new adventure at Swansea City AFC, goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański tells UEFA.com about his Arsenal FC highs and how he shook off the nickname 'Flappyhandski'.

Łukasz Fabiański marshals the Arsenal defence against Bayern
Łukasz Fabiański marshals the Arsenal defence against Bayern ©Getty Images

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.