Gerard Cieślik statue at Silesian Stadium.
Gerard Cieślik statue at Silesian Stadium.

The Legend of Chorzów

A player who showed it was possible to overcome the regime

Football clubs are focal points of many community stories. School students in Katowice were assigned to search for the best ones. This one is about the making of a legend.

What is it about?

Gerard Cieślik was a legendary Polish footballer, known for his contributions to Ruch Chorzów and the Polish national team. Born in 1927, he began his football journey amidst the turmoil of World War II, facing significant personal and professional challenges. Despite these hardships, Cieślik became a prominent player, famously scoring in Poland’s 1957 victory over the Soviet Union. He retired in 1959, leaving a lasting legacy in Polish football, including three national championships and numerous individual accolades. Cieślik passed away in 2013, remembered as a legend, a symbol of resilience and dedication. 

The Legend of Chorzów” offers a compelling account by his son, providing the viewer with an insight into the less-known dimensions of the life of a legendary football player amidst turbulent historical times.

How was it made?

In October 2022, as part of the Erasmus+ project “Football Makes History: Schools and Football Club Museums Unlocking Local Heritage education”, high school students of Katowice school “ZSTIO2” were challenged to research unique and compelling stories in their community, with a focus on working together with local football clubs. During the school year 2022/2023, they acquired the skills needed to do this research, as well as prepare their storyline and pitch it. A total of 20 stories were created, but the three most compelling stories were selected by the Football Makes History team to become the basis for the production of a short film. 

This story was written by Natalia Rozpedowska who then continued as Lead Producer with her production team (Alicja Malgrab, Kacper Kinel, Kinga Kot, Adrian Rej, and Kacper Sikora).

This process was carried through during the school year 2023/2024. It was supervised by teachers Anna Skiendziel, Agnieszka Swoboda and Edyta Stanczyk. The IMR, led by Film Director and Football Makes History Creative Director Stefano di Pietro, provided continuous training and remote learning and led on-site production and post-production. The film was screened in Katowice on 12 June 2024.  It captures and makes available to a worldwide public a story which holds significant value for the community and can be used as an educational resource. 

How can educators work with it?

Cieślik is a legendary figure in Polish football. He built a reputation among young footballers. He gave joy and satisfaction with his achievements. Educators can look at this turbulent life story with young people and seek answers to questions like:

  • What role might football have played for a young person in difficult economic and social conditions?
  • What might have been the value of football for post-war society?
  • How could a football game impact society during a totalitarian rule?

Find out more

Read more about the remarkable story of Gerard Cieślik which is part of the Football Makes History collection. You can watch a summary of the 1957 match on YouTube. In 2013, a short documentary was created by Grzegorz Grabowiec where you can also watch him speak, this is available on DailyMotion.

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Gerard Cieślik statue at Silesian Stadium.
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