Grzegorz Lato
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Grzegorz Lato

Grzegorz Lato
Grzegorz Lato by Slawek.jpg
Lato in 2010
Senator of Rzeszów

2001-2005
Józef Fr?czek
W?adys?aw Ortyl
25th President of the PZPN

30 October 2008 - 26 October 2012
Robert Zaw?ocki
Zbigniew Boniek
Personal details
Born (1950-04-08) 8 April 1950 (age 70)
Malbork, Poland
NationalityPolish
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Occupation

Association football career
Playing position(s) Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1966-1980 Stal Mielec 295 (117)
1980-1982 Lokeren 64 (12)
1982-1984 Atlante 45 (16)
1984-1991 Polonia Hamilton 52 (20)
Total 456 (165)
National team
1971-1984 Poland 100 (45)
Teams managed
1988-1990 North York Rockets
1991-1993 Stal Mielec
1993-1995 Olimpia Pozna?
1995-1996 Amica Wronki
1996-1997 Stal Mielec
1997 AO Kavala
1999 Widzew ?ód?
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only
Copy of G.Lato medal and autograph in Sports Star Avenue in Dziwnów

Grzegorz Boles?aw Lato (born 8 April 1950) is a Polish former professional footballer and manager who played as a winger. He was a member of Poland's golden generation of football players who rose to fame in the 1970s and early 80s. Over a decade, he represented Poland at five major tournaments starting with Gold at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 and ending with a third-place finish at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. He reached the peak of his career at the 1974 World Cup, where he was the leading scorer and the only Pole to-date to have won the honor. After retiring from his playing career he had a brief stint as manager in several clubs in and out of Poland.

Lato, as a member of Democratic Left Alliance, was a Polish Senator for the Rzeszow region, between 2001 and 2005.

On 30 October 2008, he was elected president of Polish Football Association (PZPN). As president of the PZPN he oversaw the Euro 2012 tournament, which was co-hosted by Poland. He was finally succeeded by Zbigniew Boniek on 26 October 2012.

Club career

Stal Mielec

Lato was born in Malbork. He arrived at Stal Mielec as a teenager in 1966. Over the next 14 years, he led Stal from the Second Division to the top tier of Polish football and its most successful era in its history. During his time there, the club would go on to win the Ekstraklasa--the Polish First-Division--twice, in 1973 and 1976, as well as be regular participants in European competitions. This era of success culminated with their appearance at the quarter-finals of the 1975-76 UEFA Cup. He inspired the club's good form with his prolific goal scoring, amassing 111 goals in 272 appearances. He was the top scorer of the Ekstraklasa during the 1972-73 and 1974-75 seasons.

Later career

In 1980, having turned 30, Lato was finally free to leave Poland to pursue his career abroad. Despite his age, his international performances had garnered him interest. Lato ended up receiving a personal invitation from Pelé to play for the New York Cosmos. However, he ultimately decided on settling in Belgium playing for K.S.C. Lokeren, scoring 12 goals over 2 seasons. By 1982, Lato decided to move on, signing for Atlante F.C. in Mexico where he amassed 15 goals. In 1984, he played in Canada in one match in the National Soccer League.[1] He spent the rest of the 1980s playing amateur football in Hamilton, Ontario for Polonia Hamilton--a club founded by Polish immigrants.[2] In 1991 he decided to retire from football.

International career

Lato represented the Polish national team for 13 years during the 1970s and 80s earning a total of 100 caps. He won his first cap under legendary Poland coach Kazimierz Górski in a qualifying game for the 1972 European Championships against West-Germany. The game ended as 1-3 loss. He was able to translate his prolific domestic goal-scoring record onto the international stage, where he became renowned for his striking prowess, especially in big games.

World Cup

1974 World Cup

The highpoint of Lato's professional career came during the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. Poland had a tough first round, having been seeded in Group 4, along with Argentina and Italy as well as Haiti. Lato went on to have immediate impact. In Poland's first game against Argentina, he scored 2 goals leading Poland to a historic 3-2 win. Buoyed, Poland hammered Haiti in the next game 7-0, with Lato adding another 2 goals. Finally Poland beat Italy 2-1, to end the group-stage as undefeated winners of Group 4.

In the second round, Poland were seeded into Group B with West Germany, Sweden and Yugoslavia. Lato continued his great form as the tournament progressed. Poland defeated Sweden 1-0 and Yugoslavia 2-1, with Lato contributing the winning goals in both games. Poland's final game of the group of was against West Germany. The Germans had also defeated Sweden and Yugoslavia, tying both teams on points. Thus, the game would prove decisive in deciding who would finish Group B 1st or 2nd--the winner would go to the final, the loser would go to the third-place play-off. Poland played a strong game, often threatening the West-German goal. However, Lato was unable to score and Poland succumbed to a 1-0 defeat--their only loss of the tournament.

Poland's final game of the tournament was the third-place playoff against holders Brazil. In a tight game, Lato again proved to be the difference, scoring the only goal and leading the Polish national team to a Bronze finish. He ended the tournament as top goalscorer, having scored 7 goals.

1978 World Cup

Lato had arguably had been Poland's best player at the 1974 World Cup. However, by the time of the 1978 tournament in Argentina he was unable to replicate his great form. In the first round, Poland were seeded in Group 2 with West Germany, Mexico and Tunisia. Poland did well, winning the group by drawing 0-0 with West Germany, and winning against Tunisia and Mexico, 1-0 and 3-1 respectively. Lato, however, was only able to score one goal, albeit a decisive one against Tunisia.

In the second round, Poland found themselves in the "group of death" against Argentina and Brazil--both tournament favorites--and Peru. Lato, unfortunately, couldn't resurrect his from four years prior, only mustering a single goal against Brazil. Poland ultimately finished third place having been beaten by both the hosts Argentina and Brazil 0-2 and 1-3 respectively. Poland managed to beat Peru 1-0 but that wasn't enough to secure 2nd place in Group B and they were duly eliminated. Having played in all of Poland's 6 games, Lato ended the tournament with only 2 goals.

1982 World Cup

Lato was 32 by the time Poland qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. His age was getting the better of him and he lacked the electrifying pace that defined his earlier career. Lato was still a first team player, but during Poland's 8 games at the tournament he managed only a solitary goal in Poland's 5-1 thrashing of Peru in the first round. However, several players had risen in a new generation of great Polish players, chief among them Zbigniew Boniek--who scored a hat-trick against Belgium--were able to fill the void. Despite his lack of goals Lato still contributed to the team play and played and important role. In the end, Poland reached the third-place playoff against France. They went on to win 3-2 and Lato added another Bronze World Cup medal to his collection.

Olympic Games

Lato won medals at two Summer Olympics football competitions: a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics and a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics.

His final game before retirement was on 17 April 1984, a friendly against Belgium. He was subbed off in the 85th and Poland lost the game 0-1. Lato amassed 45 goals and the third highest goal scoring total in Polish national team history, second only to that of Robert Lewandowski and W?odzimierz Luba?ski. He also had an impressive goal scoring record of 0.43 goals per game.[1] He was the first Polish player to reach a century of caps.

Managerial career

In 1996 he graduated from the School of Coaches of the Polish Football Association. After finishing his football career, he became a coach. Initially, he coached in Canada where he became manager of North York Rockets(1988-1990). He then returned to his old club Stal Mielec (1991-1993 and 1996-1997) before coaching several other Polish clubs: Olimpia Pozna? (1993-1995) and Amica Wronki (1995-1996). He had a brief stint in Greece as manager of AO Kavala (1997) before he finally returned to Poland and eventually retired from managing with Widzew ?ód? (1999).

Lato (left) and Brazil's Marinho Chagas in Munich during the 1974 World Cup

After football

Lato, as a member of Democratic Left Alliance, was a Polish Senator for the Rzeszow region, between 2001 and 2005.

In October 2008, he was elected President of the Polish FA (PZPN). In an 2011 interview, Lato said that if Poland didn't progress to the Euro 2012 quarterfinals he would hand in his resignation from the position of President of the Polish FA. After Poland's 0-1 defeat by the Czech Republic on 16 June 2012--which officially knocked them out of Euro 2012 in the group stages--he refused to resign. He did not seek reelection and was replaced by Zbigniew Boniek, on October 2012.

Playing style

Blessed with remarkable acceleration, the talented right-winger consistently lived up to the high expectations placed upon him at the international level. Lato was not renowned as a crowd pleaser, but rather as a consistent team player. His great awareness on the pitch, coupled with his flexibility--he often played as a forward--allowed him to achieve success at the international and club levels.

Career statistics

Source:[3]

Club

Club Season League Total
Apps Goals
Stal Mielec 1969-1970 Ekstraklasa 18 6
1970-1971 Ekstraklasa 11
1971-1972 Ekstraklasa
1972-1973 Ekstraklasa 24 13
1973-1974 Ekstraklasa 13
1974-1975 Ekstraklasa 19
1975-1976 Ekstraklasa 30 14
1976-1977 Ekstraklasa
1977-1978 Ekstraklasa
1978-1979 Ekstraklasa
1979-1980 Ekstraklasa
Total 295 117
KSC Lokeren 1980-1981 Belgian Pro League 33 6
1981-1982 Belgian Pro League 31 6
Total 64 12
Atlante 1982-1983 Liga MX 36 15
1983-1984 Liga MX 5 1
Total 41 16
Polonia Hamilton 52 20
Career total 452 165

International goals

Goal Date Venue Opponent Result Competition
1 19 August 1973 Varna, Bulgaria  Bulgaria 2-0 Friendly
2 19 August 1973 Varna, Bulgaria  Bulgaria 2-0 Friendly
3 26 September 1973 Chorzów, Poland  Wales 3-0 FIFA World Cup 1974 qualifying
4 15 May 1974 Warsaw, Poland  Greece 2-0 Friendly
5 15 June 1974 Stuttgart, West Germany  Argentina 3-2 1974 FIFA World Cup
6 15 June 1974 Stuttgart, West Germany  Argentina 3-2 1974 FIFA World Cup
7 19 June 1974 Munich, West Germany  Haiti 7-0 1974 FIFA World Cup
8 19 June 1974 Munich, West Germany  Haiti 7-0 1974 FIFA World Cup
9 26 June 1974 Stuttgart, West Germany  Sweden 1-0 1974 FIFA World Cup
10 30 June 1974 Frankfurt, West Germany  Yugoslavia 2-1 1974 FIFA World Cup
11 6 July 1974 Munich, West Germany  Brazil 1-0 1974 FIFA World Cup
12 1 September 1974 Helsinki, Finland  Finland 2-1 UEFA Euro 1976 qualifying
13 4 September 1974 Warsaw, Poland  East Germany 1-3 Friendly
14 9 October 1974 Pozna?, Poland  Finland 3-0 UEFA Euro 1976 qualifying
15 26 March 1975 Pozna?, Poland  United States 7-0 Friendly
16 26 March 1975 Pozna?, Poland  United States 7-0 Friendly
17 28 May 1975 Halle, East Germany  East Germany 2-1 Friendly
18 24 June 1975 Seattle, United States  United States 4-0 Friendly
19 6 July 1975 Montreal, Canada  Canada 8-1 Friendly
20 6 July 1975 Montreal, Canada  Canada 8-1 Friendly
21 6 July 1975 Montreal, Canada  Canada 8-1 Friendly
22 10 September 1975 Chorzów, Poland  Netherlands 4-1 UEFA Euro 1976 qualifying
23 25 July 1976 Montreal, Canada  North Korea 5-0 1976 Summer Olympics
24 25 July 1976 Montreal, Canada  North Korea 5-0 1976 Summer Olympics
25 31 July 1976 Montreal, Canada  East Germany 1-3 1976 Summer Olympics
26 16 October 1976 Porto, Portugal  Portugal 2-0 FIFA World Cup 1978 qualifying
27 16 October 1976 Porto, Portugal  Portugal 2-0 FIFA World Cup 1978 qualifying
28 15 May 1977 Limassol, Cyprus  Cyprus 3-1 FIFA World Cup 1978 qualifying
29 29 May 1977 Buenos Aires, Argentina  Argentina 1-3 Friendly
30 12 June 1977 La Paz, Bolivia  Bolivia 2-1 Friendly
31 7 September 1977 Volgograd, Soviet Union  Soviet Union 1-4 Friendly
32 21 September 1977 Chorzów, Poland  Denmark 4-1 FIFA World Cup 1978 qualifying
33 5 April 1978 Pozna?, Poland  Greece 5-2 Friendly
34 26 April 1978 Warsaw, Poland  Bulgaria 1-0 Friendly
35 6 June 1978 Rosario, Argentina  Tunisia 1-0 1978 FIFA World Cup
36 21 June 1978 Mendoza, Argentina  Brazil 1-3 1978 FIFA World Cup
37 6 September 1978 Reykjavík, Iceland  Iceland 2-0 UEFA Euro 1980 qualifying
38 21 March 1979 Algiers, Algeria  Algeria 1-0 Friendly
39 4 April 1979 Chorzów, Poland  Hungary 1-1 Friendly
40 29 August 1979 Warsaw, Poland  Romania 3-0 Friendly
41 26 March 1980 Budapest, Hungary  Hungary 1-2 Friendly
42 4 April 1980 Brussels, Belgium  Belgium 1-2 Friendly
43 22 June 1980 Warsaw, Poland  Iraq 3-0 Friendly
44 29 June 1980 São Paulo, Brazil  Brazil 1-1 Friendly
45 22 June 1982 A Coruña, Spain  Peru 5-1 1982 FIFA World Cup

Honors

Lato's star in W?adys?awowo, pictured in 2006

Club

Stal Mielec

Atlante F.C.

Lokeren SC

Individual

  • Polish Premier League top scorer: 1973, 1975
  • Pi?ka No?na Player of the Year: 1977, 1981
  • Sport Player of the Year: 1974, 1977

International

Poland

Individual

See also

References

  1. ^ Koep, Bob (23 December 1987). "Polish soccer star to coach Rockets". Toronto Star. p. B4.
  2. ^ "HISTORY". HAMILTON POLONIA F.C. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "Grzegorz Lato". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Gerd Müller
FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe
1974
Succeeded by
Mario Kempes
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Robert Zaw?ocki
President of Polish Football Association
30 October 2008 - 26 October 2012
Succeeded by
Zbigniew Boniek

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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