Lukasz Fabianski exclusive: West Ham goalkeeper confidant Hammers can avoid Premier League relegation

When West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is told he is the second oldest player to have appeared in the Premier League this season, the 38-year-old excitedly interrupts the question before it can be finished.

“Who’s the oldest then?! Who’s older than me?” he laughs, in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports.

But giving him the answer immediately seems too easy, so a guessing game ensues.

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“Let me think,” he says. Fabianski is then given his first clue – he is an outfielder.

“Is it (James) Milner?” hey answers. A great guess from Fabianski, but the Liverpool midfielder is eight months younger than him, so the quizzing continues.

Told he is a Brazilian, Fabianski remains stumped. “Oh, I don’t know,” he says.

Then told he plays for Chelsea, Fabianski, without any hesitation, answers correctly: “Ah, Thiago Silva!”

The 38-year-old centre-back is nearly seven months older than Fabianski, who turned 38 just two weeks ago.


With the quiz now over, it is time to finish the original question: how important will Fabianski’s know-how be in West Ham’s relegation battle?

“Having this huge experience in English football,” he says, “especially in the Premier League, and being in tricky moments as well with West Ham and with Swansea (he was relegated with them in 2018), I think this experience actually helps me to deal with the present situation in a good way.

“When we have some sort of conversation about the situation, or when I hear some conversations of players then I’ll try to step in a little bit and just share my experience.”

Saturday’s 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace followed by Monday night’s 2-2 draw between fellow strugglers Leicester and Everton has left West Ham just four points above the drop zone with five games remaining.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham

The Hammers, who are on 34 points, need just one more point to reach the average number of points (35) required to stay up in the last 10 Premier League seasons, while in the last six seasons no team has been relegated from the Premier League with 36 points.

No wonder Fabianski remains calm about their position.

“We always knew that it’s going to take more than what we are on at the moment,” he says. “We’re never actually thinking that we are safe, we know that we need to get more points, but everything is still in our hands.

“We are more or less in control of the situation, so it’s up to us. We don’t have to really look at other teams so I think that’s obviously great; that’s the best place to be in terms of how you want to control the situation and it’s going to be up to us.”

Opta’s Season Predictor shares Fabianski’s optimism – it gives West Ham just a 0.7 per cent chance of being relegated. So are the Hammers too good to go down?

“I think maybe at one point we caught ourselves as well in thinking like that,” Fabianski admits. “We know that we have a really good group of players, but you have to show it every single game.

“I think maybe sometimes we kind of waited a little bit too long with realizing.

“I think you can clearly see a change in terms of performance and the results after the last international break.

“The last result against Palace wasn’t the best one and the performance maybe was a little bit off. But before that every single game after the international break was really good. I think that hopefully we’ll be able to continue like that until the end of the season.”

Asked if he is confident they will beat the drop, he replies: “Yeah, for sure. We need to believe, we need to be confident.”

That level of positivity is going to be needed for West Ham’s next three league matches, which are all against top-half sides, starting with a daunting trip to leaders Manchester City on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.

It is not the game in hand the Irons would have wanted over their relegation rivals, with West Ham visiting a City side who are unbeaten 18 games and have scored 133 goals in all competitions – the most in Europe’s major leagues.

Fifty of those have been scored by Erling Haaland, who opened his City goal account against West Ham on the opening weekend of the Premier League season. But his first two goals in English football were not scored against Fabianski after he came off injured in the 29th minute.

Asked whether it was disappointing his day ended early against Haaland, Fabianski jokes: “I don’t know!”

West Ham United goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (left) speaks with Manchester City's Erling Haaland (right) as he leaves the field to be replaced by goalkeeper Alphonse Areola (not pictured) after picking up an injury during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.  Picture date: Sunday August 7, 2022.
Fabianski faced Erling Haaland in West Ham’s opening Premier League game of this season before coming off injured

“No, but it’s a huge challenge obviously. The way he came into this league and then he showed his personality on the pitch and with the numbers as well as he has provided for his team, it’s been incredible.

“He’s special. He’s got almost everything that you would want in a striker. Obviously he’s scoring a lot of goals, but he’s working hard for the team as well.

“He’s making great runs, he’s good on the ball, he’s powerful, he can shoot, he can head and he takes penalties.

“I think the only thing he doesn’t do is take free kicks! But other than that, he almost does everything out there on the pitch.”

Fabianski knows one thing or two about a top striker having played with Robert Lewandowski for Poland. So how does the Barcelona forward compare with Haaland?

Manchester City's Erling Haaland, left, speaks with Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski ahead of a charity friendly soccer match between Barcelona and Manchester City at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​​​Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort )
Haaland (left) and Robert Lewandowski (right) are ‘different types of strikers’ according to Fabianski

“I think they are two different types of strikers,” he says. “Lewy has this smell for the goal inside the box. He’s always in the right place at the right time.

“I think Haaland is a bit different in terms of his physical presence, but they’re two top strikers.

“They have this thing about themselves that they know they are good. They don’t look like they ever question themselves in front of goal and when there’s an opportunity to score a goal, the percentage of the goal ratio is always crazy high – that’s what makes good strikers special.”

Haaland’s double against West Ham in August proved to be the onset of a difficult season domestically for David Moyes’ side.

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Having spent £179m on nine signings in the summer after back-to-back top-seven Premier League finishes, the Hammers were not expected to be in this precarious position.

“This season has been a bit of a struggle,” Fabianski admits. “We made a lot of changes in the summer. We brought in a lot of players from different leagues, so for them it’s a new experience playing in the Premier League and it always takes time.

“I hope this kind of season will be like a transitional season for the group and with this experience we’ll be able to first finish this season in a strong way, to stay up and then with this experience, we’ll be able to start the next one well.”

There remains real hope that this season can still be a success, with West Ham eyeing Europa Conference League glory for a first major trophy in 43 years, while also avoiding relegation.

“That would be amazing,” Fabianski says. “If that happens, that would probably be one of the best seasons in the history of this football club because one, we’d be a Premier League club again, and at the same time we’d win a trophy for the first time since 1980

“Winning a trophy in Europe would be crazy, and then that gives you another year in Europe as well. You could call it glory years in a way, so that would be pretty special, that’s for sure.”

But whether Fabianski would have the chance to play in a potential Europa Conference League final remains doubtful, with Alphonse Areola considered first-choice in the competition, while the Pole is Moyes’ number one in the Premier League.


“It’s funny because it has never been explained to me that it’s going to be like that,” Fabianski says. “It started happening like that last season and it’s just carried on.

“I think we both understand the situation really well, so we’re just being very supportive towards each other.

“We have a great relationship. At the same time we compete with each other, but I think it’s really in a good way, in a healthy way and it really helps us as well to create this like bond of being very respectful towards each other , but very likeable as well. ”

With Fabianski ahead of Areola in the Premier League pecking order, the former Arsenal and Swansea goalkeeper is set for a landmark appearance at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

When it is put to him that it will be his 400th English club career appearance, Fabianski is genuinely shocked.

“Oh! OK, I didn’t know that!” Hey says.

Asked for his reaction, he beams: “Yeah, that’s cool!” Such is his surprise, he is then lost for words. “Errrr,” he stumbles smiling, “yeah that’s cool! I don’t know what else to say?!”

When it is suggested that it shows his outstanding longevity at the top of the game, he jokingly replies: “Yeah, you’re just basically saying I’m old!”

Well, after all, he is the second-oldest player in the Premier League this season.

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