BY ALAN TEMPLE in Dublin – Capital City Press
Hearts defender Blazej Augustyn has reflected on his experience of working under ‘madman’ Diego Simeone as he prepares to embark on the latest chapter of a varied career.
Augustyn, a summer signing from Gornik Zabrze, was on the books of Bolton during their golden era a decade ago, lapping up the lessons on offer from the mercurial talents of Jay Jay Okocha and Nicolas Anelka.
A move to Catania in Serie A, via one season at Legia Warsaw, followed as he realised his “dream” of crossing swords with some true Calcio greats. The subsequent name-dropping saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alessandro del Piero clang to the floor.
He also turned out for Rimini and Vicenza but perhaps the most intriguing aspect of his stint in Italy – especially given he is now working under the understated Robbie Neilson – was his spell with the fascinating but ferocious Simeone at Catania.
“I worked with Simeone and I played a few games for his team,” he recalled. “He is a madman and I cannot speak about him too much because I didn’t like him.
“His training as a coach was very good but I did not like other things about him. But I am only 27 and I have been lucky enough to work under lots of different styles.
“My time in Italy was very special, it was my dream to play against some of the best players in the world and my time there allowed me to do that – Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], Alessandro Del Piero, Antonio Cassano.
“Earlier in my career, at Bolton, I was also able to train with Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and Nicolas Anelka. They are all important experiences.”
With a confident demeanour and candid style, Augustyn appears destined to be a massive character within the Tynecastle dressing room this term.
However, he may not be too popular with the people of Dundee after revealing the more juicy details of his conversation with ex-United star Jaroslaw Fojut when he canvassed his good friend for career advice.
“I asked how it was to live in Scotland – he told me that Dundee is a s*** city, but Edinburgh is very nice,” joked the 27-year-old. “I was more asking him all about the cities in Scotland, because I already knew a lot about the teams.
“Jaroslaw told me that joining Hearts would be the perfect move for me. He knows me, he knows how I play and he knows what style of football I like. He said I would love the Premiership.”
A wariness of Tayside notwithstanding, Augustyn arrives on these shores with great expectations.
“One time I won the Polish Cup with Legia,” he added. “I think it is about time I won something again.”