From bottle thrower to top stopper - Southampton’s Artur Boruc

Artur Boruc

The Polish keeper has arguably been the Premier League's best so far this season ... things were a lot different a year ago.

This time, last season Southampton were at the foot of the table and had conceded 20 goals - now they are fourth and conceded just two. Much of their problem last term was in the goalkeeping department. The Premier League had got the better of Kelvin Davis while the inexperienced Argentine Paolo Gazzaniga was not ready for this level of competition.

So they signed Polish stopper Artur Boruc on a free transfer after his release by Fiorentina. Early in his Saints career I may have referred to Boruc as the ‘Roley-Poley-Goalie’ and I stand by it in terms of that moment in time.

So enter Boruc and at first glance there was obvious concern.

It didn’t look like the Pole had seen a fruit or vegetable, let alone a gym, since his release from Fiorentina in the summer of 2012. Not even the slimming black goalkeeping top could hide the flabby jowls of the 33-year-old.

Then he decided to give credence to the theory that old habits die hard by sarcastically applauding his own fans and launching a water bottle their way in October 2012 - hardly endearing yourself to the fans (although he alleges racist abuse was hurled in his direction).

But that is Boruc - a controversial and puzzling character and certainly one of the old breed ‘mad’ goalkeeper types. His consistent to-and-fro with the Rangers fans during his time in Glasgow teetered on the tightrope between tongue-in-cheek and downright insanity.

For all the world, 12 months ago, it looked as if Boruc would not get a contract renewal and Southampton would sign a new keeper.

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But he then rediscovered his form in the relegation fight. Looking physically trimmed and to have his mind at ease in the Premier League. He made stunning contributions against Manchester City and Norwich - he was rewarded with that new deal and a vote of confidence as the undisputed number one, not only for Southampton, but Poland as well.

Now he continues to impress. At Anfield the other week he was imperious. Yesterday against Swansea City he once again made some out-of-this-world saves.

To some he arrived a pantomime act - a past-it throwback to the SPL’s golden era. But he has adapted physically, mentally and tactically to the Southampton game. Aided by innate reaction time and agility, and Southampton might just have their new Antti Niemi between the sticks.

Let’s just hope that his form doesn’t carry on into Wembley next Tuesday.

Do you think Boruc has earned a contract extension for next season?

image: © celticphotos

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