Lukasz initially signed a two year deal with Dundee United in the same season that saw Barry Robson leave to join Celtic. At United, Lukasz exhibited behaviour that would mark him in the same mould as his compatriot Artur Boruc, as that season saw Zaluska reported to the SFA for making lewd gestures to Aberdeen fans during an ill-tempered game in the League Cup semi-final, which Dundee United won 4-1. He was later fined and given a warning for his actions. It was in the December of 2008 that Celtic made their interest in him known and Lukasz declined to sign a new contract and signed a pre-contract with Celtic. He officially became a Celtic player on 1st June 2009 and made his debut against Falkirk in the League Cup.
All of which brings us up to speed on his career.
In order to properly gauge Lukasz as a Celtic player, we have to look at his performance on-field.
Zaluska is a competent keeper, that much is obvious, but where he excels is in his ability to come into the team and stake a claim as the number one goalkeeper at the club. If any non-fans had come along and watched a game this season while Lukasz was in goals, they’d be hard pushed to figure out that he wasn’t the first choice goalkeeper.
His overall stats show that Lukasz conceded 13 goals in 10 games, 1.3 goals per game, whilst Boruc conceded 26 goals in 28 games, 0.9 goals per game. A fleeting glance at the stats clearly show that Boruc is a better keeper, but as we all know, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. To find out the real truth, we have to dig a little deeper.
Zaluska played in the 3-1 defeat, to a very strong Arsenal side, at the Emirates which was, in all honesty, a duck shoot for us and arguably one where we were lucky to escape with our dignity.
Later in the season, Zaluska was given a fair amount of stick by some fans following his run in the team which saw Celtic concede 3 goals in a game against Falkirk. To be fair, he did have Gary Caldwell and Glen Loovens, collectively known as ‘The Sieve’ playing in front of him on that occasion and the goals were possibly more due to the poor defending and Tony Mowbray’s insistence on using the dreaded ‘Zonal Marking System’ than Lukasz’ goalkeeping skills. He was also between the sticks in what were arguably the clubs two worst results of the past decade – St Mirren and Ross County. The very mention of those names sends a shiver down the spine of most Celtic fans. The first, famously, saw the departure of Celtic’s manager Tony Mowbray, whilst the second saw a dis-spirited Celtic side full of international players succumb to what amounts to, with all due respect, a village team and prompted interim manager Neil Lennon to comment that a major cleanout was needed of the playing squad.
On the positive side of things, Lukasz performed very well in the inaugural Europa League for Celtic, pulling of a couple of excellent saves in the 0-0 draw away to Hamburg and the 2-0 victory against Hapoel Tel-Aviv at Celtic Park. He also played very well in the 2-1 victory over our oldest rivals after Boruc had to be withdrawn with broken fingers. It’s worth noting that the majority of the games Zaluska played for Celtic, he finished on the winning side.
Despite being the ‘keeper on the two major upsets of the season, I think everyone will agree that Zaluska is an able deputy easily more commanding a presence than our other reserve keepers who have been at the club this season – Brown and Cervi (although you’re more likely to run into Bigfoot down the local park than you are to see Don Cervi between the sticks at Celtic Park at the moment).
I personally would be happy with Zaluska as Numero Uno when and if The Holy Goalie (trademark) leaves for the Premiership/La Liga. If there is one thing Lukasz lacks in order to totally fill Boruc’s boots, it’s a tattoo of a monkey showing its rear end, around his belly button.