Express & Star

How Aston Villa's Matty Cash qualifies to play for Poland

Aston Villa's Matty Cash and his Poland team mates take on Saudi Arabia on Saturday - looking to take a big step towards qualifying for the World Cup knockout stages.

Mexico's Raul Jimenez (left) and Poland's Matty Cash battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Group C match at Stadium 974, Rass Abou Aboud. Picture date: Tuesday November 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story WORLDCUP Mexico. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

A year on from making his international debut, the Slough born full back who joined Villa for £14 million back in 2020 - has arguably one of the most curious back stories of any player at the World Cup.

Many people still ask the question of how Cash qualifies for Poland - and it is a harrowing story that goes back over 80 years.

Here is a look at how Cash went from Championship full back to Poland World Cup star:

Cash's family history and his link to Poland come from his mother's side of the family.

Cash's grandfather, Ryszard Tomaszewski, was born three years before the Second World War in Stanislawow. His father, Wladyslaw, was killed during the war which brought atrocities to the city - with people suffering at the hands of the Nazis and the Red Army.

In 1940, after the Soviet Union took over the city, Ryszard was deported to a work camp in Siberia with his mother and two sisters - where they languished for almost two years.

The in July 1941, the Soviet Union granted an 'amnesty' to tens of thousands of Polish citizens in Soviet camps through the Sikorski-Mayski agreement - and Ryszard and his family were released.

From here, they went to set up a new life in Iran, then India, and then on to Tanganyika, whose British colonial rulers set up camps to accommodate 6,000 Polish nationals who had been held in captivity.

After six years in Africa, Ryszard and his family boarded a ship back to Europe and arrived in Liverpool.

At this time, Ryszard was 12 and he would go on to do well at school and qualify as an engineer, when, in 1964, he met a Polish woman who was visiting her sister in Ealing.

Ryszard and Janina fell in love and married, and they had a daughter, Barbara, who then had a son, Matty.

It is a story that Cash describes as a, 'crazy story really, a bit complicated.'

Cash's first call up for the Polish national side came in November 2021 - however his desire to represent the country of his mother's heritage wasn't something that had come from nowhere.

The former Nottingham Forest full back had previously got in touch with the Polish FA to enquire about playing for the country - but his efforts were re-buffed.

However, that changed when a new president took over at the association - who was keen to have Cash on board.

In an interview in 2021, Cash explained: "The last president, I believe, didn’t really want to listen to me.

"Not in a rude way, he just wasn’t into the idea of me coming to play for Poland. But the new president came and he has been really helpful and wanted to get it done quickly, as did the manager. That all helped push it on."

The wheels started to turn and when Cash had his Polish passport approved in October 2021 - he was eligible for his country.

Speaking after his first call-up, the Villa man described his pride at representing the country that holds so much history for his family.

Cash explained: "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."

He made his debut in a 4-1 away victory over Andorra in November last year - with his first international goal arriving in a 2-2 draw against the Netherlands in the UEFA Nationals League.

Now after their opening draw with Mexico - Cash takes on Saudi Arabia and three points on Saturday who help Poland make a big stride into the last 16.