Whatever the lads can do, the girls can too! What a fantastic achievement it was last Wednesday night as PSG’s ladies made it through to the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. It is a fantastic feat by Farid Benstiti’s team to overcome a formidable Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 on aggregate; beating them 1-0 at the Stade de Gerland thanks to a 79th minute winner from Fatmire Alushi.
Keeping a clean sheet on the night and a pivotal figure in the PSG set-up is goalkeeper Katarzyna Kiedrzynek who has kindly taken the time out to give her thoughts on the victory as well as give us an insight on her time in Paris. Born in the Polish city of Lublin, the 23-year-old has come a long way and is now guarding the posts at one of Europe’s most progressive female teams.
1970 PSG: Firstly Katarzyna, thank-you ever so much for agreeing to speak to 1970 PSG. How are you feeling after the victory over Lyon? The celebrations looked fantastic!
KK: It was few days ago but it still hard to believe. Incredible, fantastic and the best moment in my life!
1970 PSG: Does the team have a real belief that you can go on and win the Champions League?
KK: Of course! If you do not believe then you cannot enter the pitch! To be honest we got more confidence after the first-leg in Paris. We dominated the game and we were really close to winning.
1970 PSG: Lyon has dominated the Feminine Division 1 for the past seven years. PSG have clearly closed the gap in recent seasons and you are just three points off them at the moment. Do you think this could be your season to finally topple them as you have done in Europe?
KK: Of course! We know how strong Lyon are still. It’s a brilliant team, one of the best in the world. And we are lucky that we can compete with them. But France is lucky to have two such strong teams. We will see who’s going to take the title.
1970 PSG: As for yourself, what was it like growing up in your native Polska? Did you always harbour a dream to play football and what made you get into the sport?
KK: Football was always my dream but I started as a handball goalkeeper, like my sister. I don’t know how I started to play football but I played as a forward and loved to score goals. I remember that one time we did not have a goalie and then my father blabbed that I’ve been a goalkeeper in a handball team. That’s how everything was started.
1970 PSG: Who would you say was your biggest influences growing up and what swayed you into becoming a goalkeeper?
KK: My father was a goalkeeper, so he was my first inspiration. But to be honest the biggest influence on my career was Jerzy Dudek, former goalkeeper of Liverpool and Real Madrid. I started to play when he won the Champions League. He has always been my idol.
1970 PSG: Having a Polish grandfather myself, I know just how popular football is in the country. What is it like for you to represent them in the national team? I noticed that in three of your four last games you kept three clean sheets and the team scored 12 goals. That is very impressive form!
KK: Yes, I kept clean sheets against the Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland but we lost against Scotland 4-0. Playing for the national team always occupies an important place in my heart. I think it’s always the greatest achievement for footballers (playing international football). I wish my country the very best. We have a lot of young and talented players who won the U-17 European Championship last year. We need some experience but I hope that we can bring some success soon.
1970 PSG: Back to PSG, the squad is ever so talented. But who would you say is the star of the team? Is there a player that is like a catalyst / leader for the others? Can you name one?
KK: I cannot. I think that every single player is important in our team. It’s not about one player. It’s all about the team. We have experienced players who give us power. We have young talented players who give us potential. We have players who create a good atmosphere and we have players who can bring us to the top, if it’s possible. If I have to say who has the biggest influence on the team it is our captain Sabrina Delannoy. She has helped me so much, personally.
1970 PSG: There seems to be a real team spirit between the girls. Has this been important in getting results on the pitch?
KK: Of course, it’s very important. It is needed in all team sports. You have to remember that our relations were not easy because there is lot of international players at PSG, so it’s always hard. But now the atmosphere is really good. Everyone plays for each other and that’s why we can beat anyone.
1970 PSG: Finally, how are you finding life in Paris and this amazing adventure?
KK: Yeah, it is really amazing. Of course the beginning was very difficult for me. I cannot speak French, I’ve never played abroad and everything was new for me. Now, after more than one year, these things are getting better. Paris is lovely place to live, PSG is one of the best clubs for making dreams come true and the French language is finally not so difficult. I want to enjoy it.
Thank-you so much to Katarzyna for being kind enough to take the time out do this interview. You can follow her on Twitter; @kasiakiedrzynek