Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny ([ˈvɔjt͡ɕɛx ˈʂt͡ʂɛ̃snɨ]; born 18 April 1990) is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Roma on loan from Arsenal, and for the Poland national team.
After starting his career at Legia Warsaw, Szczęsny signed for Arsenal in 2006, where he made his professional debut in 2009. He later became the club's first choice goalkeeper, winning two FA Cups and being the joint recipient (with Petr Čech) of the 2013–14 Premier League Golden Glove.
Szczęsny has earned more than 25 caps for Poland from his debut in 2009, and was included in the nation's squad as it co-hosted UEFA Euro 2012.
Szczęsny was born in Warsaw. He is the son of Maciej Szczęsny, who was also a professional goalkeeper, having played for Legia Warszawa, Widzew Łódź, Polonia Warsaw and Wisła Kraków, along with seven games for the Poland national team.
Szczęsny trained at Agrykola Warsaw as a young player; soon, Legia Warsaw's goalkeeping coach, Krzysztof Dowhań, was so impressed with the young keeper, he allowed him to take part in a training camp with Legia's first team at the age of 15, joining them afterwards.
In 2006, Szczęsny joined the Arsenal youth set-up, progressing to the reserve team during the 2008–09 season. In November 2008, he lost his balance while lifting a heavy weight and both his forearms were fractured, causing him to miss five months. Szczęsny appeared on the first team bench for the first time during the Premier League match against Stoke City on 24 May 2009, remaining unused as the team concluded their season with a 4–1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
At the start of the 2009–10 season, Szczęsny was promoted to the senior squad and given the number 53. On 22 September 2009, he made his first team debut in the Football League Cup third round, keeping a clean sheet in a 2–0 home win against West Bromwich Albion. In December 2009, manager Arsène Wenger revealed that he and the rest of Arsenal's coaching staff had high hopes for Szczęsny, saying, "We have identified Wojciech as a future great, great goalkeeper." A month later, he added, "I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal's number one. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper."
On 20 November 2009, Szczęsny joined League One team Brentford on a month's loan. He saved a second-half penalty in his second match, a 1–0 loss to Wycombe Wanderers. Szczęsny completed his fifth game for Brentford on 12 December 2009, where he made a number of saves to keep out Leeds United and was given the Man of the Match award. On 22 December, Arsenal agreed to extend the loan for a second month until 17 January 2010, and then until 31 January. Finally, it was extended until 31 May. In April, Brentford manager Andy Scott said, "His performances suggest that he would not be out of place in the Championship or even the Premier League. It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn't saved it." One year later, after Scott was sacked as Brentford manager, Szczęsny criticized the club on Twitter, stating, "What a joke! Andy Scott sacked?! He is a fantastic manager and Brentford will pay the price. They were struggling in League Two when AS took over! He is the only reason why Brentford is in League One." In February 2015 Szczęsny was named as Brentford 'Keeper of the Decade' in a club poll.
On 27 October 2010, Szczęsny made his second appearance for Arsenal in the League Cup, keeping a clean sheet against Newcastle United at St James' Park and stopping numerous attempts from Newcastle players. He signed a new long-term contract on 11 November 2010, thanking both his father and his goalkeeping coach Josh Phelan for helping him progress in his breakthrough season. Szczęsny made his Premier League debut in the 1–0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on 13 December 2010, deputising for Łukasz Fabiański and Manuel Almunia, who both missed the match through injury. On 8 January 2011, he started the FA Cup third-round match against Leeds United. The following weekend, Szczęsny kept his first league clean sheet in a 3–0 win over West Ham United at Upton Park.
Following Szczęsny's form after playing consecutive Premier League matches, Arsène Wenger confirmed that he would remain Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper, stating, "he's done nothing for me to take him out." On 16 February, Szczęsny made his UEFA Champions League debut against Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium, making saves in a 2–1 victory. On 27 February, Szczęsny let in a last-minute Birmingham City winner in the League Cup Final; a header caused confusion between Szczęsny and defender Laurent Koscielny where the latter pulled out of a clearance at the last minute causing the former to lose control of the ball, which rolled right into the path of Birmingham forward Obafemi Martins, who converted from close range.
In July 2011, Szczęsny expressed his desire to continue as Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper for the rest of his career. He played a half in each of Arsenal's pre-season games on their tour of Malaysia and China. Szczęsny was assigned the number 13 jersey, formerly worn by Alexander Hleb and Jens Lehmann. During the 2011–12 season, he became Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper, playing every minute of the team's Premier League matches. On 24 August, Szczęsny made a vital penalty save in the 59th minute of play against Antonio Di Natale in the second leg of the Champions League qualifying round. Arsenal were tied 1–1 (2–1 on aggregate) against Udinese and Szczęsny's penalty save proved vital in securing Arsenal a spot in the lucrative group stage of the competition for the 14th-straight season. Arsenal went on to win the game 2–1 (3–1 on aggregate) with goals coming from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott. On 28 August, he played in the 8–2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford which turned out to be Arsenal's heaviest ever defeat in the Premier League and the first time they conceded eight goals for over 115 years. On 26 February 2012, Szczęsny finished on the winning side in a North London derby for the first time, as Arsenal came from 0–2 down to win 5–2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. On 3 March 2012, Szczęsny made a number of important saves and blocked an early penalty to help Arsenal win against Liverpool at Anfield.
Following the release of Manuel Almunia, Szczęsny was given the vacated number 1 shirt. After a couple of months out with injury, Szczęsny made his return in the 5–2 win against Tottenham.
On 13 March 2013, Szczęsny was dropped from the Arsenal team to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League. In Arsenal's next Premier League match, against Swansea City, Szczęsny returned to the Arsenal squad but was named only as a substitute, with Łukasz Fabiański selected to start in goal by Arsène Wenger.
On 20 April 2013, Szczęsny returned to the team in a Premier League match at home to Everton due to a rib injury sustained by Fabiański. In his first two matches back in the Arsenal goal, he kept consecutive clean sheets against Everton and Fulham respectively.
Szczęsny had a testing time in the opening fixture of the 2013–14 Premier League season, as Arsenal lost 1–3 to Aston Villa. During the match, he conceded a penalty after tripping Gabriel Agbonlahor. Despite the disappointment, Szczęsny responded well by keeping three clean sheets in Arsenal's following four matches. He also made two crucial saves to help preserve Arsenal's 1–0 lead away to Crystal Palace in October, as well as keeping two consecutive clean sheets in vital wins over Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. In a November 2013 match against Manchester United, Szczęsny received lengthy treatment following a head-to-head injury with Phil Jones, but finished the game after Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger allowed him to continue. Wenger said he would have substituted for Szczęsny if instructed by the team doctor, but added, "No, nobody told me anything about him," when asked if medical staff had cleared the goalkeeper to play. Tottenham coach André Villas-Boas was heavily criticised the previous week for keeping concussed keeper Hugo Lloris in a match against Everton.
On 16 November 2013, Arsenal announced that Szczęsny had signed a new long-term contract with the club. His excellent form continued throughout November, a month in which he conceded just one goal and kept five clean sheets in six matches. He also recorded his 50th clean sheet for Arsenal on 26 November, in a Champions League match against Marseille which Arsenal won 2–0. Szczęsny conceded a penalty and was sent off in a Champions League match against Bayern Munich in February 2014 for a foul on Arjen Robben. As he left the field, he made an offensive hand gesture. David Alaba missed the penalty, but Arsenal lost the match 2–0. In the process, Szczęsny became the 100th player sent off during Arsène Wenger's reign at Arsenal.
At the end of the season, Szczęsny was jointly award the Premier League Golden Glove award alongside Petr Čech of Chelsea, with both keeping 16 clean sheets. He also ended the season by winning his first senior trophy with Arsenal, the 2013–14 FA Cup, but was only a substitute in the final itself, with Łukasz Fabiański retaining his place as first choice goalkeeper for domestic cup competitions.
Szczęsny conceded a penalty and was sent off in a 4–1 Champions League home win against Galatasaray on 1 October 2014 for a professional foul on Burak Yılmaz.
On 1 January 2015, Szczęsny made errors leading to both goals in Arsenal's 2–0 defeat at Southampton. He was later fined £20,000 by the club for smoking in the changing room showers after the match. He was dropped to the bench for the rest of the Premier League season, with David Ospina replacing him in goal.
On 30 May, Szczęsny was selected to start in the 2015 FA Cup Final, keeping a clean sheet in a 4–0 victory over Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium.
On 29 July 2015, with his opportunities further limited by Arsenal's signing of Petr Čech earlier that summer, Szczęsny joined Roma on a season-long loan. He made his Serie A debut on 22 August in a 1–1 draw at Hellas Verona.
On 16 September 2015, Szczęsny suffered a hand injury in the 50th minute during Roma's opening Champions League match against Barcelona after clashing with Luis Suárez. The following day, it was confirmed that he would be out for six weeks after the dislocation of his fourth finger on his left hand. He returned and helped Roma return to good form as Roma were slumping in his absence.
In December, he was dropped for Morgan De Sanctis for a league game against Atalanta after again being caught smoking following a 6–1 loss to Barcelona.
On 4 August 2016, Arsenal confirmed that Szczęsny returned to Roma for the next season.
Szczęsny played for Poland's under-21 team and started in three 2011 European Championship qualifying matches. He was also placed on stand-by for the Polish senior team by manager Leo Beenhakker for the team's World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Slovenia in early September 2009. Since none of Poland's top three goalkeepers dropped out, however, he was not called up and instead played the U-21 qualifiers against Spain and Finland. He has a total of six caps for the U-21 squad.
In October 2009, new manager Franciszek Smuda sent Szczęsny his first call up to the full national side, for the friendly matches against Romania and Canada. He made his debut against Canada on 18 November, coming on as a half-time substitute for Tomasz Kuszczak in a 1–0 victory at the Zdzislawa Krzyszkowiaka Stadium in Bydgoszcz. He earned his second cap and his first full match on 9 February 2011, in another friendly win of the same score, against Norway at the Estádio Algarve.
Szczęsny had a strong performance against Germany on 6 September 2011, making eight critical saves in a 2–2 draw; this earned him praise from former German international goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. He was sent off in the opening game of Poland's co-hosting of UEFA Euro 2012 against Greece, for a professional foul on Dimitris Salpingidis, costing Poland a penalty which was saved by Przemysław Tytoń in a 1–1 draw. Szczęsny failed to play again for the rest of the tournament as Tytoń played the remainder as Poland finished bottom of Group A with two points.
On 12 October 2014, Szczęsny was pivotal in securing his country's historic first victory over Germany in a Euro 2016 qualifier. He played in his nation's opening game of the tournament against Northern Ireland. He kept a clean sheet in his nation's first ever win at a European Championship, but suffered an injury, which kept him out of the rest of their campaign. Poland nonetheless made it to the quarter-finals, with former Arsenal teammate Łukasz Fabiański in goal.
|Club||Season||League||Domestic Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Brentford (loan)||2009–10||League One||28||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||28||0|
|Roma (loan)||2015–16||Serie A||34||0||0||0||0||0||8||0||0||0||42||0|
|National team||Year||Apps||Goals||Clean sheets|
- FA Cup: 2013–14, 2014–15
- FA Community Shield: 2014
- Premier League Golden Glove: 2013–14*
(* Jointly shared with Petr Čech)