Kiwior’s delight at wearing our red and white | Interviews | News

He may only be 22 years old, but new signing Jakub Kiwior has packed a lot into his time in the game already.

England will be the fifth country he has played in over the past six years, as he quickly developed from a prospect in Polish football’s youth leagues to now having the chance to strut his stuff in the Premier League.

Here you can find out how his career to date has progressed with our step-by-step guide:

Reunion with Sambi

Having started at his hometown team Tychy, Jakub was quickly spotted by Anderlecht and opted to make the move to Belgium aged 16. During his time as a member of their youth team, he played alongside Sambi Lokonga, who was breaking into the first-team .

His international career also began at this time with Poland’s under-16s, and he would feature for every age group right through to the under-21s before full honors arrived.

Teen with a dream

With opportunities limited in Belgium, he made a switch to Slovakia in January 2019 by signing for Zeleziarne Podbrezova and his senior debut arrived the day after his 19th birthday in a 3-1 victory against FC Nitra.

He quickly rose to prominence in his new surroundings, and despite suffering relegation in his first season, within seven months he had found himself wearing the captain’s armband. That saw MSK Zilina – one of Slovakia’s most successful teams – snap him up, as he swapped relegation scraps for title tilts.

Making an impact

His two seasons at the club went well. Jakub would help Zilina to a runners-up finish in the league in his first season, and the Slovakian Cup final the following year where he opened the scoring but couldn’t prevent an extra-time defeat to fellow giants Slovan Bratislava.

He then featured eight times in the Europa Conference League qualifiers – his first taste of European football – before Italian side Spezia spotted his potential and paid £2 million to recruit him five minutes before the transfer window closed in August 2021.

Baptism of fire

Jakub had to be patient to make his Spezia debut, but three months after his arrival, he was handed a starting spot at the San Siro in a Serie A game against Inter Milan. The majority of his appearances in his first season at the club came as a defensive midfielder, as he helped his team avoid relegation by six points.

Following a change of manager in the summer, Jakub was switched to centre-back at the start of this campaign. He featured 20 times for Spezia in the position, before moving to north London.

International recognition

His impressive displays in Serie A led to a first international call-up in June 2022, Jakub made his full international debut during a Nations League draw against the Netherlands.

His performance drew praise from national team skipper and Polish icon, Robert Lewandowski: “Listen to me, this is a real player,” he has previously said. “I noticed it during the warm-up before the match against the Netherlands. In training, it’s very difficult to see certain things. Then I saw him in the match, extraordinary. Really great potential.”

Starring on the world stage

After impressing many in his early appearances for Poland, Jakub was a sure-fire pick for their World Cup squad despite only winning five caps before the tournament. He was named alongside former Gunners Wojciech Szczęsny and Krystian Bielik in the 26-man squad that headed to Qatar.

There he would play every minute of their campaign, which brought clean sheets in their opening two matches against Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Despite a loss to Argentina in the final group game, the 22-year-old helped Poland reach the last 16 for the first time in 36 years, before they were defeated by finalists France.

Watch Jakub’s first interview as a Gunner

Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.

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