Ludwik Sobolewski - "Widzew means the world to me”

These words of Ludwik Sobolewski for ever hold a place so dear in the hearts of Widzew fans as a symbol of attachment and devotion to the Club. Their author – a legendary President of Widzew FC - introduced a small, working class football club from Lodz into high society of European football. He was an outstanding personality, a visionary, someone whose perception of football reached out far beyond the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Sobolewski started his work at Widzew Sports Club in 1970 as a head of the Football Section. Later he became a Vice-President of the club and in 1978 he was officially appointed the President. In his managerial reign, within just a few years Widzew, a small district football club, developed into a prominent actor central to the Polish football scene who successfully represented Poland in successive editions of UEFA Cup competitions.

The track record of successes and trophies won under Ludwik Sobolewski’s leadership is really impressive. In 1975 the club advanced to the Polish Premier League (Ekstraklasa) and two years later it was the Premier League runner-up for the first time out of seven in total. Two successive Premier League championship titles won in 1981 and 1982 as well as the Polish Cup won in 1985 incited admiration and envy in all football clubs in Poland, often times far more rich, with better sports infrastructure or organisational support.

In the times of Sobolewski Widzew became the hallmark of Polish football which was confirmed by its successes in European Cup games with football clubs as, e.g., Manchester City, Manchester United, Juventus or Liverpool. Until today results achieved by the club in competition with such prominent rival teams have remained unattainable to other Polish football teams.

Also in his times the term “Widzew spirit” was coined. He was a forward-looking man, he introduced organisational and sports solutions that were innovative in those times and he had special relationships with the players and co-workers. Mainly through his efforts the talents of the best Polish football players, such as, e.g., Zbigniew Boniek, Józef Młynarczyk or Włodzimierz Smolarek, blossomed to the fullest in Widzew. Sobolewski would often recruit players who no one wanted to work with but he could see their qualities, persistence and attitude. For his trust, they paid him back with successes on the football pitch.

Sobolewski held the position of the Widzew FC President in three the following periods: 1978-87, 1989-93, and in 1998. Then he became an Honorary President. – He was a great personality and a very modest man. Players had an enormous respect for him. He was a visionary. He had a vision of building a great football team and he did it. – stresses Władysław Żmuda Widzew manager in the years 1981-84 and 1992-93.

Sobolewski died on 10 November 2008. His famous words "Widzew means the world to me" – for years have been the motto of successive generations of football fans of the club from Lodz. They are engraved on the monument of the "Founding Fathers of Great Widzew" placed at the stadium building on the side of Piłsudskiego street.