'I'm not really a big football freak' - Leeds United's Mateusz Klich on the beautiful game and his future
The absence of fixtures for him and his Leeds United team-mates to play in might be a source of consternation for Mateusz Klich, but the lack of football on his television is not.
Klich is not what he calls a ‘football freak’.
He does, of course, miss playing the sport.
He misses walking out at a packed Elland Road and covering every blade of the pitch at least once en route to what is often close to 12km of running.
He even misses murderball, the tortuous non-stop Wednesday training session devised by Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
But sitting down with the YEP at the club’s Thorp Arch back in January, Klich revealed that football did not figure all that highly for him or his family when he walked back in through the door of their home after training.
“I’m not going home and watching football all the time,” he said, highlighting a difference between him and many of his football-obsessed colleagues, not to mention Bielsa, who has built a career upon a rapacious appetite for football footage.
“I like watching Premier League games, Champions League, but I’m not really following the group stages, you know? I’m not really a big football freak.
“I have other things to do.”
Amid the intensity of a Championship season, particularly at a club like Leeds United where their promotion ambitions have taken on an all-or-nothing life of their own and sit on the city’s horizon like an ever-present cloud, Klich likes to create some breathing room, some space between him and the game.
There is no way the Polish international could have imagined, when this interview took place, just how much space he would soon be afforded by a pandemic that, at that stage, had not yet been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation.
When the most pressing concerns were an upcoming home game against Millwall and the seven-game February schedule, life was so much simpler.
“I play with my daughter; she absorbs all my free time and then I like to play video games and computers,” said Klich, describing how he passed his free time back then, before his free time was to increase dramatically, before all forms of football were taken away and all he was left with was the Leeds fitness department’s daily workout programme, kicking a ball against a wall and running through the woods to stay sharp.
“I don’t really want to talk football when I go home because, obviously, we train every day, we play a lot of games and, sometimes, I like to switch off from football and just talk about something else,” he said.
“I think [it helps].
“My girlfriend is also not a football freak so I don’t need to talk about football when I go home.
“I think it’s good to not think about it all the time because you could go crazy.”
Thinking about it all the time without ever watching or playing it is perhaps an even worse fate but Klich’s social media feeds show that he still has other things to do – he’s still playing with a toddler and still gaming on a regular basis.
“Basically nothing’s changed for me here; I’m just sitting at home waiting,” he said in his most recent interview at the end of March.
“I’ve got some groceries to buy but I’m not going anywhere. Even when I was training, I trained and I went home.”
Perhaps, however, he has more time to think about what the future may hold.
At the start of the year in which he will turn 30, Klich was vague and unconcerned about what life will look like beyond his current career.
He’s a man with many interests outside ‘the beautiful game’ – Klich is into street art, Polis hip-hop and live streaming his games of Counter Strike – but, even before his involvement in football was temporarily curtailed by the coronavirus outbreak and an enforced absence that has made many of our hearts grow fonder, he admitted the sport is likely to continue to play a part in his life, even when his playing days are over.
“I’m not too young to think about it, but not too old,” he said. “I’m not sure yet, I have no idea.
“I like to play with my young cousins in Poland when I go home and, probably, I will do something with the kids because I would like to teach them something.
“There’s a lot of ideas.
“Probably gonna be involved in football anyway.”
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