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Zbigniew BoniekThe Beauty at Night


Zbigniew "Zibì" Kazimierz Boniek, born 3 March 1956 in Bydgoszcz, is widely regarded as the best player Poland has ever produced, and is one of the greatest Eastern European players ever. 

He started his career with his hometown club Zawisza, before moving to one of the Poland's great clubs, Widzew Łódź, winning two Polish and scoring 50 league goals in 172 games. 

Boniek was included in Poland's 1978 World Cup squad as a 22-year-old, and impressed many with his tireless running and commitment. He will be remembered most for his key role in the country's successful campaign at the 1982 World Cup. His greatest performance for Poland came in a second phase match against Belgium where he scored a magnificent hat-trick. Unfortunately he was suspended in the semifinal against Italy, but went on to inspire Poland to victory over Michele Platini's France in the 3rd place play-off match. Zibi was one of the players of the tournament and appeared in many 'dreamteams' in papers and magazines in the wake of the World Cup

Ahead of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, he had agreed a deal to join Italian giants Juventus. Along with fellow newcomer Platini and World Cup winning hero Paolo Rossi, the 'Bianconeri' had the makings of a formidable forward line which went on to conquer Italian, European and world football. 

The Turin side won the league and cup in Italy plus the Cupwinner's Cup (1984), European Supercup (1984) and European Cup in the tragic Heysel final in 1985, all in the space of three seasons. It was his form in the European midweek matches that earned Boniek the nickname 'The Beauty at Night'. Club president Gianni Agnelli, coined the name as he noticed he always seemed to save his best performances for evening matches, namely scoring the winning goal in the 1984 Cup Winners Cup final.

Zibi left Juve a year before the 1986 World Cup and joined AS Roma, where he won another Italian Cup winner's medal. He ended his career with the club in 1988. 

In 2010 Juventus President Andrea Agnelli sent Zibi a letter asking him to be one of the stars of an installation at their newly constructed stadium – to commend his contribution to the 'Old Lady'. He was one of 50 former players to be recognised as 'legends' as part of the Accendi Una Stella – Light up a Star – campaign designed for use in their new stadium. However, he was subsequently removed in late 2010 due to pressure from infuriated fans for his criticism of the club. The Turin giants proceeded to replace him with Dutchman Edgar Davids.

Boniek had previously voiced his disapproval of former general manager Luciano Moggi, who was charged for his involvement in the Calciopoli scandal. He believes his criticism of the ex-official is fully justified, and offered his own view as to why he was removed. He admitted that he had criticised Moggi, but believed that his actions should have been applauded instead of condemned. He added 'I do not know what to say, someone is probably bothered by the fact that I live in Rome.'

He was a truly magnificent player. He was so fast, his movement was very clever, he was very skilful, a great passer, could score with his right, his left and his head, and was very brave. Giampiero Boniperti

'We already had the best player in the world [in Michel Platini]. But when the match was on an evening, we had the best two. Zibi was unstoppable at night. Why? I don't know, but it was as if he had the genes of a deadly predator who did his hunting at night.' Andrea Agnelli

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