Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Bhoy to beat: Celtic’s Boruc can be the man to end the dream

Austria's Gyorgy Garics, right, attempts to kick the ball past Poland's Artur Boruc, center, and Poland's Michal Zewlakow, left, during the group B match between Austria and Poland in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, June 12, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

He's the man the fans love to hate. At Parkhead he is idolised, but outside of Paradise the ‘Holy Goalie’ is a figure of ridicule.

Come Saturday night at Windsor Park, the enigma that is Artur Boruc could well be the man who ends Northern Ireland World Cup dream, which is hanging by a thread.

Like him or loathe him, however, there is no doubting the Poland custodian’s ability between the posts.

If Nigel Worthington’s men are to fulfil their potential and mount a serious challenge for World Cup qualification in South Africa next summer, they must find a way past the the Celtic number one on Saturday night.

With Rangers hitman Kyle Lafferty suspended — and injured — and Burnley’s Martin Paterson ruled out with a hamstring strain, once again the majority of the nation’s hopes will rest on the shoulder of record goal-scorer David Healy.

He will be ably assisted by Warren Feeney who could prove to be the secret weapon in the Green and White Army’s ambitions.

The Dundee United ace has already scored past Boruc this season in the SPL and will be keen to take his chance to impress on a rare start for his country.

There will, no doubt, be a noisy reception in store at Windsor Park for Boruc but he is more than used to that wherever he goes.

While the atmosphere may not rattle him, the ex-Legia Warsaw man has been known to make the odd high-profile gaffe when the pressure is on.

One Northern Ireland international who rates Boruc as one of the best in Europe on his day is Sammy Clingan. The Norwich midfielder is a avid observer of Scottish football and knows all

about the 29-year old’s qualities — and failings.

“Before meeting up with the squad I’d have to be honest and say I don’t know a great deal about their squad of players,” admitted Clingan (pictured below).

“That will all change when we have team meetings and watch previous games from the World Cup qualifiers though.

“I watched them during Euro 2008 and they looked a strong side packed with quality, but we fancy our chances against anyone under the lights at Windsor Park. The one player I think all of our players will know a lot about, though, is Artur Boruc.

“People give him a bit of stick about making the odd mistake but he is a great keeper in my eyes. It wasn’t so long ago Arsenal were falling over themselves to try to sign him and most of the times I’ve watched him I have been impressed.

“Of course he has been blamed for mistakes in Old Firm games but that is just the life of a goalkeeper. If he makes a blunder then it usually ends up in a goal whereas the rest of us get away with it.

“Speaking to the boys who play in Scotland though, they say he is a great keeper and we will have to be at our best to get past him on Saturday.”

Boruc is now firmly re-established as Leo Beenhakker’s number one after being overlooked for two internationals due to “irresponsible behaviour” on Poland duty.

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