Jerzy Dudek seems to have been the victim of someone somewhere telling lies after quotes attributed to him were published saying that he wanted out of Anfield. The published quotes included attacks on Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez supposedly from Dudek.
Oliver Kay of The Times wrote a story including quotes which were described as being given by Dudek “in an interview with a Polish newspaper”.
Their report had the following quotes: “I don’t understand Benítez’s politics, but I don’t care any more. I was waiting for a chance at the beginning of the season. Now I feel like I don’t want to play for Liverpool. If they won’t let me go and I have to stay, I no longer feel sure that I can fulfil the role Benítez gives me. Asking this much money for a goalkeeper who will be 33 in March is crazy. I don’t want to leave Liverpool in a scandal, but it doesn’t change the fact that I want to leave.” The price mentioned in the report for Dudek was £2 million.
By the time the local afternoon newspaper was out in the city, the quotes that were plastered all over the internet were much harder on Benítez. The Liverpool Echo reproduced some of the quotes, which now had the player valued at an extra million pounds: “My time at Liverpool has reached its end. Nothing can change that. If someone buys me for £3million, Liverpool will have pulled off the transfer deal of the year. I am 33 in March. I have no idea how they came to such an absurd figure. Even if Benitez wants to play me in a Liverpool match, I don’t want to play for this club any more. I can’t see any point talking further with Benitez. It’s a waste of time. I have decided to leave Liverpool at whatever cost and I won’t change my mind. Benitez just makes the frustration deeper. I didn’t go to play against Luton in the FA Cup last Saturday especially to make it clear to Benitez I am not interested in being the club’s second-choice keeper.”
It’s fairly obvious that the two sets of quotes have some differences that could be put down to just translation errors. However some things seemed to have been amended for some reason. Why were there two different valuations – to make it sound more of a “crazy” or “absurd” price? The stuff about Dudek refusing to play at Luton isn’t in the first report – and it seems unlikely that a refusal to play would take so long to be known to the press.
At the same time as reproducing this second set of quotes, the Echo’s Chris Bascombe wrote that Dudek was likely to receive a fine from the club for these words, and also that Benítez wanted £4million for the Polish international. He goes on to quote “an Anfield source” as saying: “Jerzy’s value increased after his performance in the Champions League final. It’s up to other clubs to meet our valuation or we are in no hurry to sell.”
Next there came a strong denial from Jerzy Dudek about ever having said all of this. Speaking through the official Liverpool website, Dudek said: “Like any other footballer I want to play regularly. I have become frustrated at my current situation, but I am a professional and will continue to work as hard as I can in training and do my best for Liverpool. It’s crazy when people claim I don’t want to play for Liverpool any more. This is a great club with fantastic supporters, so why would I not want to be involved?”
He continued: “I was very unhappy to read such stories about me. I did not say those things and have sat down with the manager and told him that. I have a great deal of respect for Rafa Benitez and have learnt more from him in the past 18 months than from any other manager in my career. You do not insult somebody you respect.”
For Liverpool fans over the course of the day the biggest concern over the second set of quotes wasn’t so much what Dudek had allegedly said. What was of a much bigger worry was the source of the quotes. It seemed that this more strongly-worded, more critical version came from an “exclusive” in a newspaper that is no longer read by any true Liverpool supporter. If Dudek had given an interview to The Sun then he wouldn’t have been able to play for Liverpool again without getting booed with every touch of the ball by his own fans. However as we can now see, Dudek did not speak to that newspaper.
* To find out about why The Sun is boycotted, read our Don’t Buy the Sun article.