Rafał Gikiewicz has played a large part in the success story of 1. FC Union Berlin. The Pole shone not only in his own penalty area, but also the opponent’s, and caused a sensation throughout Germany with his impression of a bouncer in the Berlin derby. Here’s a description of the new FCA goalkeeper.
Rafał Gikiewicz’s career really started around two years ago. He’d played for a long time in his homeland of Poland, before moving to Bundesliga 2. side Eintracht Braunschweig in 2014. There, he was so consistent that SC Freiburg brought him to the Bundesliga in 2016. However, Gikiewicz struggled at SCF, only making four competitive appearances in two years at the club.
And so, he took a step down and joined second-division side 1. FC Union Berlin. A step, that in fact turned out to be a massive one forward. With Gikiewicz between the sticks, Union were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history just one year later. The Pole played a key role in this, with Union conceding only 33 goals across the year. In addition, in the same season, Gikiewicz kept 14 clean sheets.
In October 2018, Gikiewicz became well-known around Germany when he caused a sensation in offence, rather than defensively. In a home game against 1. FC Heidenheim, the goalkeeper ran forward in added time when Union were losing 1-0 and headed in the equaliser from a free-kick. “I’ve been waiting for that goal for 31 years,” joked Gikiewicz. “A very special moment.”
Last season, Gikiewicz produced another convincing display in goal. With eight clean sheets, he was one of the top goalkeepers in the Bundesliga, and thus had a key part in keeping Union in the Bundesliga. At Köpenick, the goalkeeper was a crowd favourite, and not just for his spectacular saves. His open and direct way of speaking was well received by the Union faithful, such as when Gikiewicz described himself as “positively crazy”.
Gikiewicz the Bouncer: “You idiot, what are you doing?”
A moment from last November fits this description well. After the 1-0 derby win by Union against Hertha BSC, some masked figures stormed the pitch. Gikiewicz stood in the way of the chaos and shooed them back to the stands – an action for which he gained recognition across Germany. “My wife said to me, ‘You’re an idiot, what are you doing? You could have been hurt’”, explained Gikiewicz. “It was just an impulse, I want to keep order.”
His teammate at the time, Robert Andrich, suspected that the goalkeeper would make a good bouncer. “Maybe,” said Gikiewicz with a wink. “It could be a job after my career is over.”