Since being released by Wycombe, Matty Cash has endured a ‘crazy’ ride to now being set to play for Poland at the World Cup… but the story is 82 years in the making for the Aston Villa defender ahead of starring in Qatar
- Matty Cash will represent Poland at the World Cup through his mother’s side
- Aston Villa’s right-back was born in Slough, and had never been to Poland
- He was released by Wycombe youth, before joining Nottingham Forest at 17
- His notable play saw him sign for Villa in 2020, and earned him a Poland call-up
- Cash scored his first goal for his new country in June playing against Holland
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
Matty Cash could play a pivotal part in the World Cup. While Aston Villa’s right back was born in Slough, he won’t be lining up with England on Monday November 21, but instead a day later, for Poland’s opener against Mexico.
It was an unusual route for the 25-year-old to take. By his own admission, he’d never been to Poland before deciding to adopt their nationality officially, qualifying through his mother’s side. Cash made his debut for the country late last year.
From being released as a 14-year-old when Wycombe Wanderers disbanded their youth teams for financial reasons, to being an integral player for the Villains a decade later, Cash’s journey to the World Cup has been a curious tale.
It started 82 years ago, when Cash’s grandfather was forced to leave Poland, and it’s why the 25-year-old has such an English background – and a Polish shirt to wear. As he told The Guardian last year, ‘it’s quite a crazy story really, a bit complicated’. He was speaking about his grandfather’s route to England – but it could just as easily apply to Cash’s own international history.
Aston Villa’s right-back Matty Cash made his international debut for Poland in November 2021
FROM WYCOMBE TO NOTTINGHAM FOREST TO ASTON VILLA
In 2010, a young Cash joined the youth system at Wycombe Wanderers, and was one of the players in their Centre of Excellence. However, it was not to be his long-term future, as the club disbanded their programme for young stars in 2012 due to financial problems that are a daily struggle for lower league clubs.
He spent 16 months with the FAB Academy based at Bisham Abbey in Berkshire, before signing for Nottingham Forest as a 17-year-old in 2014.
At Forest, he earned his place working through their youth system. He played his first professional games at Dagenham & Redbridge whilst on a short-term loan deal with the Essex club in March 2016, scoring his first goal while representing the Daggers in a 3-1 defeat by Hartlepool.
Cash joined Nottingham Forest as a 17-year-old and rose to become the fans’ player of the year
He made his first team debut for his parent club in August of that year, shortly after signing a long-term commitment to the club. While that 2016-17 season and the following campaign were both disrupted by injury, his performances left him popular with fans and pundits alike.
In 2019-20, then Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi turned to Cash to fix the Championship club’s right-back problem after a spate of injuries. He made the role his own, and this was when Poland first took notice of him. However, it would take a few years before that situation was finalised.
Club supporters named Cash their Player of the Season for that campaign, after choosing to see out the season with Nottingham Forest, despite continued interest elsewhere.
Cash played 141 times for Forest, and paid a heartfelt tribute to the club on his departure
When he left after 141 matches for Nottingham Forest, he paid tribute to the staff at the City Ground who had overseen his growth from a 17-year-old to being scouted by Premier League Aston Villa, as reported at the time by the Nottingham Post.
Aston Villa signed Cash in September 2020 for £14million, and made his debut in their claret shirt later that month. In two and a bit campaigns so far for the Villains, he has played 80 times for them, as a core member of the team that has retained its place in the Premier League.
He was named Villa’s Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign at the club’s awards in May of this year.
Matty Cash signed for Aston Villa in September 2020, and has become a fan favourite there
Cash is of Polish descent through his mother, Barbara. Ryszard Tomaszewski, Cash’s maternal grandfather, was born in Poland, held in a work camp in Siberia with his family during World War II, and then ended up in Africa after being released. Tomaszewski came to England when he was aged 12, married another Polish woman, and their child, Barbara, is Matty’s mother.
Whilst their national FA had looked into the possibility of Cash playing for them before, it was only realised under a new Polish FA president. Cash applied for a Polish passport in September 2021, and his citizenship was granted in Warsaw the following month.
On Twitter at the time, Cash wrote, in Polish: ‘This is a very important day for me and my family. My application for Polish citizenship has been approved by the Polish authorities. Thank you to the president, my family and other people who helped me in this. Time for new challenges, I will do my best for this country.’
Cash finally got the call-up for Poland after a run of impressive performances with Aston Villa
Sky Sports reported that Cash was eagerly awaiting the challenge, having watched the side, and being impressed by their supporters.
Cash said: ‘It’ll be a real honour to play for this country. I’ve watched loads of games. The fans are brilliant, passionate. Hopefully I can bring that to the side, passion and 100 per cent commitment. That’s my game.’
He was called up for Poland’s World Cup qualifiers in November.
About the call-up, Cash told The Guardian: ‘This has been a very proud moment all around my family, especially on my mother’s side. I’ve got relations in Poland but I’ve never been there and never met them, but my mum has been on the phone to them constantly and everyone is so excited.
‘Even the response I’ve had from people on social media has been unbelievable. I can’t wait to get going and meet everyone. I only speak a few words of Polish but my mum speaks it fluently and she has been helping me brush up.’
Cash was named in Poland’s provisional list in October, ahead of the final squad selection
Hopefully, he was a quick learner, as he made his debut in their away fixture in Andorra on November 12 2021, coming on in the 63rd minute, as they won 4-1.
As Sportsmail reported last year, Cash said: ‘It is a dream come true and a special moment for me. We looked great and it was an exceptional victory.
‘Every time I play, I give 100 percent. I had a good time playing with the boys. I hope I will continue to do so. The training camp was fantastic. I enjoyed every moment. The boys greeted me kindly. I love to be here and I love to play for Poland.’
He added: ‘I hope to be able to do this many more times. I spoke to the coach before the game and he told me I would play for a part of the game. I didn’t know how many, but I was ready. I will remember this moment forever.’
Cash was booked for sending a supportive message to Polish teammate Tomasz Kedziora
In February of this year, he celebrated a wonder goal at Brighton & Hove Albion by removing his jersey to reveal a message of support to Polish teammate Tomasz Kedziora and his family, who were in Kyiv, Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion. He was booked for the sentiment, but it showed how he had taken to representing Poland – and looking out for his new international colleagues.
In June 2022, Cash scored his first goal for Poland, opening the scoring as his side drew 2-2 in Holland during the UEFA Nations League. Cash picked up the ball on the edge of the box, ran into the danger zone, and blasted it into the opposite corner.
Cash scored his first goal in a Poland kit when he struck a fierce opener against Holland
Ahead of the World Cup, Poland have a friendly against Chile in Warsaw on November 16.
Poland are in Group C of the tournament in Qatar, and face Mexico, Saudi Arabia and finally Argentina, one of the favourites, in their bid to make it to the knock-out stages.
Manager Czeslaw Michniewicz will be hoping to corral his players into a good showing, and perhaps surprising a few people at the tournament. Their FIFA ranking of 26 could suggest to some that they might be there to make up the numbers.
One year and ten days on from Cash’s debut against Andorra, Poland’s first World Cup game of the 2022 tournament could see him representing his new country on the biggest stage. With captain Robert Lewandowski leading the line, anything is possible.
Poland have not made it past the Group Stage at a World Cup since 1986, but then they’ve never had Matty Cash before.
Cash (front left) and his Polish teammates ahead of their match against Belgium back in June
Captain Robert Lewandowski will try to guide Poland to their first knockout game since 1986
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