Nov 17, 1935
|Dead||Apr 7, 2006 (70 years old)|
Born in the North of France, in the Pas-de-Calais region, of Polish extraction, Théodore Szkudlapski (known as "Théo") began his footballing journey aged 12-13 with Avion, the mining town where he was born. An exceptional playmaker, he turned professional with Lens in 1953, whilst working as a miner in the area at the same time. He only made a few First Division appearances during his first three seasons with the Red and Golds, but he would burst onto the scene of world football during the 1956/1957 season when Lens finished runners-up in the First Division. A player with the gift of great vision, and outstanding technical ability, he would notably get to know Ziemczak, with whom he had already played as a youth, and their paths would cross at Rennes a few years later. In July 1956, he joined the batallion of Joinville to carry out his National Service duties, whilst still playing for Lens. He was then selected for the France Military XI, with whom he would become World Champion in the summer of 1957. The 1957/1958 season would be a disappointing one for Lens, and would prove to be his last campaign at the club before moving on, Szkudlapski being the target of a hate campaign from the press and the Lens fans, mainly as a consequence of a French Cup Semi-Final defeat against Reims. In 1958, he was signed by Stade Rennais, who had just achieved promotion to the top flight, for a fee of around 15 Million Francs at the time. As a key member of the side, with his magic left foot, he would miss just one match in his two seasons with the club, playing in 85 out of the 86 matches that Rennes had played in that time. In the 1959/1960 season, he would finish top scorer for Rennes, but in July 1960, with Rennes in debt, the club were obliged to sell off their asset. Considered as one of the best footballers in French football at the time, in spite of a certain degree of nonchalance, and a lack of pace, he would sign for Monaco in 1960 for 30 Million Francs. He would win his first national titles in the Principality, League Champion in 1961 and 1963, even winning the French Cup in 1963. His years at Monaco even gave him the opportunity to taste the European Cup competition, and even opened the door for him to be called up twice to the French National Team. At the end of the 1960s, most teams changed to a 4-2-4 formation, and this change would take the gloss off his career, mainly because he struggled to adapt to the new system, and he had little affection for the defensive tasks which that obliged him to do. He finished his professional career at Montpellier in the Second Division between 1967 and 1969, making his final appearance on 28th September 1968 at Limoges (losing his farewell match 0-2). In the 1980s, he would return to his native Pas-de-Calais region to become a sporting coach. He passed away in Lens on 7th April 2006, aged 70 years old.