Car racing is just like goalkeeping, says Dudek

Since hanging up his gloves, former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Poland goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek has been pursuing a new career in car racing and is relishing the adrenaline of his new sport, as much as he enjoyed being between the posts.

The 41-year-old Pole has recently completed his first full season in the Volkswagen Castrol Cup, a racing championship held in circuits around Eastern Europe during the summer months, holding his own against more experienced drivers on the scene.

In town for The Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters exhibition match at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday, Dudek attributed his previous goalkeeper training and experience playing at some of Europe's finest grounds for his seamless transition into competitive car racing.

“There are many similarities between keeping goal and racing a car,” he told FourFourTwo on the sidelines of a promotional event at ION Orchard on the eve of the game.

“My position in goal is about making quick decisions during the game. When you are racing in the car, you have to do the same, especially when you have to defend or attack, and control the car.

“This has helped me keep my focus and concentration, and maintain my physical ability to be a good driver.”  

Any mention of the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul - Liverpool’s finest European moment this century - to Dudek led to him breaking into a smile, as he reminisced those feats like they had occurred just yesterday.

A particular highlight for him was the incredibly quick double save he pulled off in extra time to deny then-AC Milan forward Andriy Shevchenko inside the six-yard box, as the enthralling 3-3 match proceeded into penalties.

“That double save was something amazing, as it gave us a chance to fight on to penalties,” he grinned, revealing further that they were the best saves he had made in a career spanning two decades.

“I thought to myself after that: “Like every sportman, that was the moment I had been training towards all my life.’ ”

Etched permanently into Liverpool folkfore was how he had emulated 1980s Kop hero Bruce Grobbelaar’s ‘spaghetti legs’ tactics on the line to put off the Milan penalty takers in the shootout, ensuring he left his mark on the club’s latest European triumph by saving spot-kicks from Andrea Pirlo and Shevchenko.

Fans in Singapore could be in for a treat as the Pole promised to re-enact that memorable moment where possible during the Masters match.

“For sure. If I have an opportunity, I will do it (again) without doubt,” he assured.

“This is a different game. Back then, people started to panic, (so) I used my movements to put more pressure on strikers.

“It was fantastic for me. I wanted to have the fans on my side and also help ease the tension in my team, for my part.”

In his first visit to Singapore, Dudek has been reunited with his former Anfield teammates ahead of his Masters debut as they relive the moments they once enjoyed together as professionals.

“To be honest, I could not wait to see them [again] when they told me we had an opportunity to go to Singapore,” he said.

“They all look great, and they always talk the football, the [2005] final, the times at Liverpool.  

“Sometimes we call each other, but having the Masters here is a fantastic opportunity to see your friends and former team-mates, even if the time spent here is short.”

Although Dudek is looking forward to donning his gloves and getting back to his antic best for the Masters occasion, he still has an eye focused on his budding racing career following a completed maiden campaign on the tarmac.

“My first year as a professional racing driver was a good experience,” Dudek explained. “A year later [after trying out for three races in 2013], Castrol had asked me to participate for the whole season.

“I believe I made big progress as a racer this year and hope to do the same next year.”

Catch Jerzy Dudek and the Liverpool Legends in action in The Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters on Saturday, 15 November 2014, at Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.