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In Focus: Cash ready for Poland switch to pay off
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Cian Cheesbrough
Matty Cash could make his debut for Poland this evening after switching allegiances
Matty Cash could make his debut for Poland this evening after switching allegiances

If you told Matty Cash as a kid that he would go on to be a Polish international and a Premier League right-back, he may have had some questions for you.

But such is the whirlwind nature of football, this is where the Slough-born former midfielder now finds himself at the age of 24.

The Aston Villa man could make his debut for his adopted country tonight after switching allegiances to his maternal grandmother’s nationality in October.

Ahead of Poland’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra, we turn the spotlight on Cash’s journey to becoming Robert Lewandowski’s newest team-mate.

Toy story

At the age of 16, Cash nearly gave up on football altogether.

After being released by Wycombe, he was faced with the prospect of going full-time at his job selling toys in Windsor.

His father Stuart recalled the crossroads his son found himself at and the moment that he decided to give football one final try.

Stuart told BBC Sport: "He was lost. I remember sitting down with him and saying 'look, if you want to go and work in Daniel's Department Store or get a job elsewhere, me and your mum will support you — but you've got too much talent on a football pitch to do that'.

"From there he knew what he had to do. That job gave him the motivation to say 'I don't want to do this, I want to become a footballer'."

Matty Cash flourished at Nottingham Forest after switching to right-back from midfield
Matty Cash flourished at Nottingham Forest after switching to right-back from midfield

Right-back in the game

From there, Cash won a place at FAB Academy in Bisham where Nottingham Forest eventually picked him up aged 17.

He became an exciting prospect at the City Ground after impressing in midfield but it was a switch to right-back which really saw him flourish.

When manager Sabri Lamouchi took over in the East Midlands in the summer of 2019, he immediately went about converting Cash into a modern, attacking full-back.

Cash told the Mail last year: "I can't thank my old gaffer enough for turning me into a right-back. He wanted to use my energy to get up and down the wing."

The attacking threat he posed down the flank, coupled with his penchant for a hard tackle, has proved to be a match made in heaven.

He impressed so much that season that it earned him a £16million move to Premier League outfit Villa, where he made the step up with ease in helping his new employers finish in 11th last term.

Hero for the Villans

This season has been more difficult for the Villans after a run of five straight defeats which saw Dean Smith — the man who brought Cash to Villa Park — sacked last weekend.

The consistent performances of Cash have been a rare plus and supporters will hope that his fine form continues under the tutelage of the new man at the helm, Steven Gerrard.

Despite only being a defender for the best part of three years, he tops his club’s rankings for total tackles (24) and interceptions (16), while he is third for clearances completed (17) this season.

He also notched his first Premier League goal in a 3-0 victory over Everton in September.

Matty Cash's performances have been a positive in a difficult campaign so far for Aston Villa
Matty Cash's performances have been a positive in a difficult campaign so far for Aston Villa

The Polish Cafu

As someone who has learned to adjust for much of his career, Cash's new international exploits should prove no issue.

News of Cash switching allegiances came about in September this year and two months on, it has now become a reality with a maiden call-up for the latest set of fixtures.

After a positive chat with manager Paulo Sousa — formerly in charge of QPR, Swansea and Leicester — he is ready to commit fully to his new nationality and team.

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."

It has been embraced with a similar spirit by supporters of Villa, who have nicknamed him the Polish Cafu in a modification of what they had dubbed popular former player Alan Hutton.

Cash will hope to find similar success to English-born Blackburn striker Ben Brereton, who has become a national hero in Chile after switching allegiances before last summer's Copa America.

Road to Qatar

Cash could hardly be joining his new team-mates at a more crucial moment in their World Cup qualification campaign.

Poland can still catch the ace's birth country England at the top of Group I as they sit three points behind them, though qualification through the play-offs in March seems a more likely prospect.

Cash will hope to line up with the likes of Bayern Munich superstar Lewandowski, former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich if he makes his debut in Andorra.

And the new man feels he is ready to make an impact if called upon by Sousa.

Cash added: "I feel like I can definitely fit into [Sousa’s tactical plan], 100%. I already knew from watching their games how passionate and aggressive they play so hopefully I can implement that too.

"The games we’ve got coming up are very important and I’ve prepared myself for it. It’s going to be brilliant.

"I’ll be doing everything I can to help me and the team get to the World Cup."

Whether the country make it to Qatar or not they can be sure that Cash — or Gotowka to use his Polish name — will put all his efforts into helping them get there.



PolandWorld CupAston VillaMatty Cash
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