Birthdate: 23 March 1973
Birthplace: Rybnik, Poland
Other clubs: Concordia Knurów (1985-95), Sokol Tychy (1995-96), Feyenoord (1996-2001), Real Madrid (2007-11)
Bought from: Feyenoord
Signed for LFC: £4.85m, 31.08.2001
International debut: 25.02.1998 vs. Israel
International caps: 59/0 - 14.10.2009
Liverpool debut: 08.09.2001
Last appearance: 28.04.2007
Contract expiry: 01.07.2007
Win ratio: 52.15% W:97 D:41 L:48
Honours: League Cup 2003; Champions League 2005; FA Cup 2006
LFC league games/goals: 127 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 186 / 0
Player profile"The Big Pole in Our Goal" will forever be a vital part of Liverpool's history. Dudek played regularly for third division Concordia Knurów since he was 18-years-old, gaining valuable experience from a young age making a total of 119 first-team appearances in four years. He moved to Sokol Tychy in the 1995/96 season and played 15 games in Poland's top-flight. Feyenoord saw he had great potential and he moved to Holland in 1996. When Ed De Goey was sold to Chelsea the number one shirt was up for grabs and in the championship 1998/99 season Dudek was voted the best 'keeper in the Dutch League. His coach Leo Beenhakker described Dudek as "the best goalkeeper I've seen in 30 years." In his last campaign in Holland Dudek was awarded the "Golden Shoe" as the best player of the season. Dudek almost joined Arsenal instead of Liverpool but the move thankfully fell through as he was simply outstanding in his first season when the Reds finished second in the League. Dudek struggled in his second campaign having a particular horror show against Manchester United at Anfield on 1 December 2002 giftwrapping a goal for Diego Forlan. Following this debacle Dudek lost his place to Chris Kirkland, who had been bought by Liverpool the same day as Dudek, and had been waiting patiently for a chance. One of the many injuries that Kirkland had at Liverpool allowed Dudek back into the side in late January. Dudek played 38 games to Kirkland's 12 in 2003/04 that turned out to be Houllier's final season.
Dudek lost his place to Kirkland from October to December 2004 but as Liverpool went from strength to strength in the Champions League the Pole only missed one game as the competition proceeded to the elimination stages. Whatever had transpired in Dudek's mostly excellent career at Liverpool was taken to another level in Istanbul where he gained legendary status. His wobbly legs impression of Bruce Grobbelaar in the shoot-out will be remembered just as his double save from Shevchenko in normal time from just a few yards that seemed completely incomprehensible. "My brother phoned me in the morning and said: 'Have you seen it on TV again?', Dudek said. "I said no, I hadn't, and he said 'You need to see it; the rebound, the second Shevchenko shot was the 'Hand of God' because from nowhere came your hand to save the goal.' I said I didn't know how I did it." Dudek's penalty save from Shevchenko clinched the European trophy for the fifth time in the club's history.
The monumental Istanbul heroics seemed in a distant past as Dudek went from hero to zero in a couple of months as Rafa Benítez brought in his compatriot, Pepe Reina, in the summer and once the 2005/06 season started the Pole was effectively his reserve. Disappointed with lack of first-team opportunities at Liverpool, Dudek rather curiously chose Real Madrid as his next destination where he had even less chance to become first-choice with Spain's number one, Iker Casillas, in goal rather than Spain's number two, Pepe Reina: "From being happy to play here and press Pepe, I knew I had to go somewhere to play every week," Dudek said. Since moving to Spain in 2007 he appeared just twice for Madrid's first team in La Liga and only dozen times in total. He made his final appearance for Los Merengues on 21 May 2011 on his retirement from football, in a 8–1 home win over Almería, and was substituted in the seventy-seventh minute to a guard of honour from his Real Madrid teammates.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
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The story of THE HERO of Istanbul.More
The Guardian's Small Talk catches up with Jerzy Dudek on March 28, 2008.More
An article on 7th of May 2007 from liverpoolfc.tv.More
The Telegraph match report on Charlton - Liverpool on 08.02.2006.More
The Telegraph report on Liverpool - Manchester United on 01.12.2002.More
The Telegraph report on Middlesbrough - Liverpool on 09.11.2002.More
Dudek's relief is apparent as his stolen medals and other goods are returned to him. By Paul Eaton at liverpoolfc.tv.More
Liverpool 3 - 3 AC Milan - Barry Glendenning Wednesday May 25, 2005. More
"It was a fantastic night - in fact it was one of the best nights of my career. It wasn't easy for me to play after a few bad games but the fans were brilliant. The lads were fantastic as well. Everyone gave me confidence and they didn't let me down. There is something special about this club and the boss told me before the game that I don't yet know or understand how special our fans are. He told me they would make sure I wasn't walking alone and I saw that for myself. It was so emotional.
The boss said to me 'I know you don't really want to play and you want to rest, but if you have a car accident then the sooner you get back into the car the better'.
I saw Salif Diao after the game and he had a red shirt on under his top which said 'Jerzy - You'll Never Walk Alone'. I've never known anything like that before. It's fantastic."
Dudek on the reception he got against Ipswich on 04.12.2002.
"He has been brilliant, absolutely sensational. People talk about him being the best since Clemence and I wouldn't disagree. He is certainly the best I have seen in a long, long time at Liverpool. I was surprised when they sold Westerveld but Dudek has been a great signing. The thing I like about him is the alertness he shows. He stops things before they happen by coming out for crosses and taking control of his area. He has been first class."
Roy Evans May 2002
"He's the loudest snorer you'll ever hear. It's unbelievable. We were away at Southampton and I think someone sleeping in Newcastle complained about the noise. What you see is what you get with Jerzy though. He's a great man and a brilliant professional."
Chris Kirkland on Dudek
"I still have two years left on my contract so yes I will stay at Liverpool. But I admit that there has been a lot of speculations on this issue, but the coach must buy another goalkeeper. I am not afraid that the new goalkeeper will make problems for me. Every year it is difficult to be in the line-up and it will be the same next season."
Jerzy Dudek in June 2005 on Jose Reina's arrival
"Before the penalties, Carra came up to me like he was crazy - as always! He said: "Jerzy, Jerzy - remember Bruce (Grobbelaar). He did crazy things to put them off and you have to do the same".
Liverpool hero Jerzy Dudek reveals the 'wobbly legs' in Istanbul
"He did a much better job than I did. He looked like a starfish with jelly legs to me but it worked."
Grobbelaar on Dudek's tactics in Istanbul
"My brother phoned me in the morning and said: 'Have you seen it on TV again?' "I said no, I hadn't, and he said you need to see it; the rebound, the second Shevchenko shot was the 'Hand of God' because, from nowhere, came your hand to save the goal.
"I said I didn't know how I did it."
Dudek on his miracle save from Schevchenko
"We are all disappointed for Jerzy. He was distraught in the dressing room afterwards and apologised to us all. I think it's hurting the lads even more because he's such a nice fella as well as being a top class goalkeeper."
Jerzy Dudek had a particular horror show against Manchester United at Anfield on 1 December 2002 giftwrapping a goal for Diego Forlan. Jamie Carragher, was very sympathetic towards his teammate.
"When Vladi scored I didn't realise if Shevchenko didn't score we had won. I just had my focus and desire to try and stop every penalty. I saw him walking up and saw the fear in his eyes. I managed to save it and I then saw Jamie and the other players running towards me and I realised it was finished... it was a beautiful moment. Everyone came to me, the kit men, the physios and it was fantastic. There was no one single hero, we were all heroes to come back from 3-0 down and to win on penalties was something special."
Jerzy Dudek on Liverpool's official website in September 2014.