The train moves slowly to Warsaw Gdańsk. You need to stretch your muscles, deal with the tingling in your legs, grab the fake fluorescent lights and chart a course for your apartment. Even though it’s the middle of February, the sun’s rays are happily caressing your face. However, it is not only the morning dawn that can be seen through the window. The station has a lot of internal military service officers. what’s up? Someone informed me?
“Prepare your passports and stay in your cabins,” the WSW officer says calmly.
The gendarmes enter the room and immediately begin to pay attention to the fluorescent lamps. There is no coincidence. Someone blew off steam. He simply sold it. The officers call him in for questioning and release him. A simple rain from a large cloud or just the calm before the storm?
However, the latter.
6:00 a.m., one day later. The WSW car arrives at the apartment. The soldiers assure us that the investigation will only be formal, so there is no point in taking anything. This was only half true. Service representatives learned that the ruling had already been issued.
The day of February 13, 1971 remained in the memory of the Włodzimierz tram for years. On that day, not only his career was destroyed, but his life as well. Real Madrid just wanted him, he was in the spotlight, the fans loved him and from day to day he ended up in prison. He had to face the consequences of his actions until the end of his days.
King of life
The perspective of time makes such figures mythical. Since they have already become legends, why not try to exaggerate more? Many things were also attributed to the tram that were not necessarily true. He took care of it himself.
– When we met by chance somewhere between Plac Unii and Plac Zbawiciela, we always talked. Włodek liked to say more than what was there. But he did it well, and that’s why he had so many listeners. It had such a large scope of the plot that my imagination could not reach that far – Stefan Friedman tells us with a smile.
Therefore, it is difficult to determine how much truth there is in his adventures off the field. Although they taste delicious, the ones made by Jan Himmelsbach are worth mentioning. -We went for a walk once. It was hot, so I wore a Skra Warszawa basketball jersey with my name on the back. At some point, a man came over and offered a lot of money for my dance dress. Jacio was very hungry, and dreamed of a trophy, so he began to persuade me: “Sell it, Włodzio, sell it,” he encouraged me – said the tram in “Sport z za grata”.
The basketball player could not refuse the famous actor. The potential buyer was asked to wait for some time. — Bach, Himmelsbach Arm and to the Rosicki Bazaar. We bought dozens of T-shirts there for a pittance, a friend drew Skra logos, my number and my name, and then we went back to the buyer. The entire procedure lasted just over an hour. And he bought all these shirts. Trams added that Jannik Himmelsbach was happy, without having to specify what the unexpected money was spent on.
We also learn from the aforementioned book that the tram was the prototype of today’s celebrities. “Handsome, well-dressed, eloquent, and at the same time stunning on the field. He moved in the bohemian circles of the capital. Bohdan Lazuka was a witness at his wedding, a friend of the famous shot put player Wladyslaw Komar and one of the whole group of the best Polish actors. The tram was very popular “So much so that when he entered the fashionable places of the time – Stodoła or Hybrydy – there was always a table waiting for him, and the waiters bowed to him from a distance from the waist,” wrote Piotr Dobrowolski.
Friedman echoes his sentiments. —He felt comfortable in Ligia and in Warsaw, where he was recognizable. He was on the level of a famous actor. He remembers that they often stopped him in the street. — Wlodek was very social, but he could also be antisocial. It depends on whether he likes someone or not. He adds that he had no enemies.
Even though Trams had a handful of lives, that didn’t stop him from performing great on the basketball court. Three-time Polish champion with Legia Warsaw, bronze medalist of the European Championships (1967), participant of the World Championships (5th place in 1967) and the Olympic Games (6th place in 1968).
– As a leader, he was able to take responsibility for the result. When he wanted, he could simultaneously lead the team, score points and defend every ball – this is how legendary coach Witold Zagorski described him in the book “Zelony Kanonerzei”. – He was one of the distinguished players in European stadiums. Everything was going well when he devoted himself to the sport and enjoyed success. However, after some time passed, as the desire to get rich quickly and other goals appeared in his life, he lost this important focus. The coach admitted that his stay in prison deprived him of his best years as an athlete.
— At the time, he wasn’t a three-point shooter, and he had what was called a pee from half-range. He has hit 10 successes out of 12 attempts, which will give him 30 points today. Every coach wanted to have such a player at home, Janusz Zorski told us. The director was one of many who liked the game Trams for Legia.
FRIEDMAN: —I also went to his matches. We were impressed that he joined this strong club and then the Polish national team. He was just like us, and suddenly he rose to a very high level.
The significant rise in the condition of the tram meant interest from Real Madrid itself. However, there was no talk of him moving into the royal family. As in the case of the players Kazimierz Deyna and Włodzimierz Lubański, the club from the Spanish capital accepted the handle.
Zaworski: – Everything was made more difficult by the regime, which was afraid that those who went abroad would later talk about how life was better there than in the socialist regime. For this reason different barriers were made. The athlete could leave only at the age of 30, but due to the lack of biological regeneration in Polish sports, this was practically the end of his career.
Tramm celebrated his 30th birthday in prison.
“Jaruzelski put on a show and had sex with Ligia.”
On 10 February 1971, Legia lost to Fides Napoli for the second time (home 75:84, away 73:96) and was eliminated from the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Although Warsaw basketball players return to Poland with their shields on, they do so with their heads held high. After all, the Italians are the defending champions. A trip to the Italian peninsula is not only an opportunity to appear on European dance floors, but also an opportunity to earn a lot of money.
As always in difficult times for the Polish People’s Republic. This was done not only by basketball players, but also by representatives of other disciplines. Even those on the front pages of newspapers. Władysław Komar himself called himself the “King of ortholions”.
— When customs officers once detained Wlodek Lubanski with a lot of money, he explained that his daughter had eye problems and he had to arrange something for her abroad. Moreover, everyone was trading because they wanted to buy something for themselves, their wife, and their children. There was nothing in Poland, former Legia player Janusz Žimewski told us.
—One scandal made him stop being such a star. Almost all athletes did it, Friedman says, and he was the only one who did it.
However, in the case of the tram, this was not a routine inspection. Someone must have heard about smuggling two kilograms of gold in fluorescent lamps (placing bags of the precious metal between fluorescent lamps). Otherwise WSW officers would not have immediately begun dismantling it at Gdański railway station.
– I’m sure someone sold me – later confirmed this on the website ZycieStolicy.com. – They showed me the testimony of two people who accused me. I realized that they were with me – he added in “the truth.” It was about two Legia basketball players, whose names Tram has taken to his grave.
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The basketball player tried to save himself in a similar way. During interrogation, he admitted that Żmijewski once brought him gold wedding rings from Türkiye. — That’s what happened, I’m not denying it, but you’d have to be a very foolish person to believe the prosecutor who told him to tell him everything he knew because that would give him a reduced sentence. And the impressive winger told us he spoke as much as he could. It is difficult to doubt that the famous “Jojo” was puzzling, after all, Lucian Brecese himself outlined a similar course of events in his biography.
It was easy to blame Żmijewski because he already had his own past. Charged with smuggling foreign currency before the first leg against Feyenoord Rotterdam in the 1970 European Champions Cup semi-final, he was imprisoned for eight months.
Goalkeeper Władysław Grotyński was treated similarly, naming receipts for Marian Golimovski, Boguslav Peltz and Tomas Tepiński. -The then Minister of National Defense, Wojciech Jaruzelski, did not like Lygia, so he destroyed it. “Blind” made a show and will ruin our club – claimed Trams in the “Super Express”.
Vegetation cover for a thousand
Tram was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released after serving three years and five months. Although his opportunities in prison were limited, he tried to maintain good physical fitness. He was counting on getting back on the basketball court. Soon he got this opportunity. However, he did not take advantage of Ligeia’s offer.
—For about three and a half years, Ligia paid no attention to me. No one was interested in my fate. No officials or colleagues. Even though it was my life’s club, it was my true love for the sport. We know that the first feeling stays with us forever… When everyone left me, I felt like a traitorous lover. As if I had been punched in the face by the club to which I had dedicated everything – Tramas made no secret of his remorse in “Sports from Behind Bars”.
However, his wife did not abandon him and supported him throughout his time in prison. Their relationship only deteriorated after the basketball player was released. Things did not go well with his wife after prison. Before going to prison, he was an enemy of alcohol, and when he was released, he began drinking heavily. He wanted to forget. Free yourself from the trauma of prison. Old friends and fans showed up. They bet. Everyone wanted to hear the story of what Wlodek went through behind bars. I hit the family. Krezia, Wlodek’s wife, was a modest, quiet, and kind girl. Ewa Basista, Trams’s sister, said she had put up with this sugar for too long.
– He was, so to speak, open to alcohol. Friedman admits that this bothered him more and more.
— They broke up over vodka. Finally, Kresia gave up everything, took her daughters and went to her parents who lived in Białystok. Włodek did not have a club at that time, he trained in Skra. And he was still drinking. He went to visit them in Podlasie, but Kresia did not want to return to him. Then she immigrated to London with the girls, as the basketball player’s sister revealed.
Over time, the tram began to look at the bottle less often, but this did not make all the problems go away. Although after his release from prison he played in several clubs, the prose of life became more and more present.
He took different jobs. Among other things, he led a curtain installation company. This did not provide him with a peaceful autumn of life. He lived on 1000. Polish zloty pension. He did not complain about his fate, although he realized to the end that one moment had ended everything.
Zaworski: – He is one of many great athletes who hit rock bottom. His biography is very unpedagogical. One would like to be completely different: from poverty to money and honor, and not the other way around. He looked like the king of the dance floor, but prison wouldn’t spare him. I was very saddened by the way his life turned out.
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