By Chris Harris
Tucked away in the Big Book of Football Cliches is the suggestion that you have to be "a bit mad" to be a top-class goalkeeper. And Wojciech Szczesny agrees.
The Polish youngster has enjoyed a meteoric rise this year and that is set to continue with an appearance in the Carling Cup Final on Sunday when Arsenal and Birmingham compete for the first trophy of the season at Wembley.
You might expect Szczesny to experience a few butterflies in his stomach as he prepares for a showpiece fixture in front of a 90,000 crowd and millions of TV viewers across the globe. But the 20-year-old believes he is confident enough, and crazy enough, to overcome any nerves.
"All the top goalkeepers are crazy, you’ve seen in the past where they are a little bit bonkers so maybe I have a piece of that," he admitted. "Nothing worries me, not really, I am just very confident, I keep my feet on the ground.
"I was born this way. I believe in my own ability and that’s why I’m confident that every time I go out on the pitch, whether it’s Stoke and we have to face a lot of crosses in the box or Barcelona and the best strikers in the world, I believe in my ability and I am confident before the game.
"I love the atmosphere, I love the surroundings and I’m just looking forward to playing there [at Wembley]. It’s a massive occasion but I believe I’m going to enjoy playing there. You always dream to play at stadia like that, so when you do get to play there you have to enjoy yourself."
Arsenal will start as firm favourites to lift their first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup but Szczesny is taking nothing for granted against a Birmingham side capable of upsetting those odds.
"It’s hard to talk about favourites in the Cup because for Birmingham it’s the only chance they get to win a trophy this season," he said. "They will be up for it. It’s hard to say who is the favourites but we believe we can beat them and win the trophy.
"It would be a massive boost and I believe if we do win the trophy we will have more desire to push on from there and win all the trophies."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source