Football: Polish saviour Tyton is mother's pride
(WARSAW) - Poland goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton is still coming to terms with having gone from third choice keeper to national hero after a penalty save that prevented the Euro 2012 co-hosts opening game turning into more of a wake than a party.
His save from veteran Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis earned Poland a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the opening match of the tournament and brought him unexpected if welcome attention.
"I didn't expect it to turn out like this, that I'd get my chance in the first match," said Tyton, who has won just six caps since making his debut in 2010 and had looked to spend the tournament on the bench.
"On top of that, it's the first time my mum was watching me play in the squad, so I'm pleased that I've given her something to remember to the end of her days," the 25-year-old added.
Poland's keepers have often found themselves in the international limelight, with Tyton joining a line of names stretching from Jan Tomaszewski, Jerzy Dudek and Artur Boruc to current star Wojciech Szczesny, whose sending off on Friday opened the door for Tyton.
A 56,000-strong capacity crowd at Warsaw's National Stadium, the vast majority in Poland's white and red, were already biting their finger nails nervously after 10-man Greece equalised in the second half.
The tension mounted 20 minutes from time as Szczesny - three years younger than Tyton - was sent off for tripping Greek scorer Dimitris Salpingidis in the box.
With the score at 1-1, the prospect of a nightmare defeat coming through a penalty loomed.
Hastily gloved up, Tyton was brought on as Karagounis - one of the survivors of the Euro 2004 title winning side - waited patiently to take the penalty.
"Wojciech got a red card. I felt like I was in a dream, this was the chance I really wanted to help the team," Tyton said.
Calm and collected, the Pole dived the right way to deny Karagounis, sending fans wild.
"How do you stop a penalty? That's my personal secret," he said.
The match had an echo of the do or die clash with England during the qualifying race for the 1974 World Cup, where iconic keeper Tomaszewski's heroics kept the score at 1-1 and denied the hosts a berth at the finals in Germany, where Poland were to come third.
Tyton, who hails from the picturesque town of Zamosc in southeast Poland, moved from the Polish first division to Dutch top-flight club Roda Kerkrade.
Poland manager Franciszek Smuda underlined that stopping penalties was the strong point of Tyton, who signed a five-year deal with PSV Eindhoven in 2011.
"At his clubs, Tyton's been really spectactacular, so we know he can defend against penalties," said Smuda.
Tyton had been expecting to play the role of third choice keeper at Euro 2012, until Szczesny's Arsenal and Poland understudy Lukasz Fabianski was sidelined by injury at a pre-tournament training camp.
That pushed him up a notch, while Smuda called in Grzegorz Sandomierski of Belgian club Genk as the new number three.
With Szczesny suspended for Poland's crunch game against Group A powerhouses Russia - a meeting with an added political edge because of centuries of bad blood - Tyton knows he has his work cut out.
"We have another match on the way on Tuesday and we have to be ready," he said.
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