Malbork

Grzegorz Lato | 1970s Polish Football Icon

03 Feb 2022
Football fans of a certain age will instantly recognise the name of Grzegorz Lato, the Golden Boot winner at the 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany. Born in Malbork, Poland in 1950, Lato may not have exactly looked the part of stud footballer, but was a wonderful player and the only Pole to ever be the leading scorer in a World Cup (come on, Lewandowski). Often playing as a winger, Lato used his excellent reading of the game and explosive pace to score 45 goals for the Polish national team over the course a career that coincided with the most successful era in Polish football. Lato helped Poland win Olympic Gold in ’72, third-place in '74 World Cup Finals (scoring the only goal in the third-place match), Olympic Silver in ’76 and a second third-placed finish at the '82 World Cup Finals.
Grzegorz Lato (16) scores a goal against Sweden in the 1974 World Cup Finals.
Instantly recognisable because of his short, stocky build and receding hairline, Lato spent virtually his whole career at the Polish club Stal Mielec, due to the communist authorities refusing to allow players to transfer abroad until they were 30. Lato went on to become a Polish senator and later tarnished his legacy somewhat during an unpopular spell as head of the Polish FA.

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