Filip Szymczak stood where a striker should stand. After a corner kick, he was quickest to anticipate his team-mate Filip Dagerstal’s header and slotted the ball into the net. The centre-forward’s 1-1 equaliser not only earned Lech Poznań a vital UEFA Conference League point at Hapoel Be’er Sheva, it also ended a personal drought with his first goal of the season.
“I am very happy for him,” Lech coach John van den Brom praised the youngster after the game. “He has been struggling in the last few weeks, he really wanted to score. Now he has done it and I hope more goals from him will follow now.” The Dutch coach knows what he has in Szymczak, as the 20-year-old is regarded as a great talent who represents the first-class youth work of the eight-time Polish champions.
Szymczak’s career in the youth team of the “Railwaymen” began at the age of eleven. A remarkable goal haul in Lech’s youth teams was followed by several call-ups to the Polish national team’s junior selections. He got his first minutes in the U21 team in March 2021 in an international double against Saudi Arabia and Austria.
This year, duels with Austria should also follow at club level. In the UEFA Conference League, Lech Poznań won the first duel with FK Austria Wien 4:1 in their own stadium. The match in the Austrian capital follows next Thursday. If they win, Lech can look forward to further challenges at European level in the spring.
The club lays the foundation for long-term international success in its own academy, which has been expanded in recent years to include its own Research and Development Centre in Wronki. An essential part of this investment was also the construction of the world’s most modern football training system, the skills.lab Arena. The club uses the system to regularly measure the technical performance of all players in the form of assessments and to promote their development.
“With the skills.lab Arena we have a great training system to offer the perfect development process to our player”, says Michal Kokotek, Head of Operations at the Lech Poznan Youth Academy. With the system, the reigning Polish champions can not only work individually on the skills of their players, but also use it highly efficiently for training groups and individual team parts. The aim of Lech’s strategic investments at the Wronki site is to raise the quality of training to a new level and establish the club as an innovative flagship in the Eastern European region.
“The training and development of our players is a top priority for us, as youth work is the foundation of our club,” emphasises Karol Klimczak, President of Lech Poznań. For years, the club has made a name for itself as a springboard for young talent. In 2010, for example, the current star of FC Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski, joined Borussia Dortmund from Lech Poznań.
Lech’s highest transfer earnings, however, came in the last five years. Defender Jan Bednarek moved to Southampton FC, Jakub Moder joined Brighton and Jakub Kaminski was transferred to VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. They all came through the youth teams of the Polish top club. Just like Filip Szymczak, who is possibly one of the next talents that Lech Poznan will train in the best possible way thanks to the modern training infrastructure and subsequently sell at a lucrative price.