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Marek Pieta, the President and one of the founders of the Polish professional footballer union, passed away last Friday. He was 62.

FIFPro pays its respect to his family, his friends and his colleagues at the Polish union PZP.

Pieta had been the President of the player union since its establishment in February 1997. One year later the PZP became a FIFPro member.

Earlier this year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“Marek always came to our congresses the last twenty years, but last week he could not be there”, said FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen. “We missed him. It was strange not having him around.”

Marek Pieta 3 650BW light“I’ve known and worked with him for a long time. He wasn’t much of a talker, because his English wasn’t that good but he was always there to help you. He was a good man.”

Pieta began his playing career at Gornik Walbrzych. In 1978 he moved on to Widzew Lodz, where he joined legends such as Zbigniew Boniek, Wlodzimierz Smolarek and Andrzej Grebosz and won two championships. His highlights include scoring two goals against Juventus in the 1981 UEFA Cup tie when the Polish club surprisingly eliminated the Italian club.

Pieta also played at German side Hannover 96, before retiring in 1984 due to injury.

“Marek’s entire life revolved around football,” said PZP spokesman Kacper Zielinski. “He was very dedicated to developing the Polish union and improving the rights of professional footballers.”

“Having played himself, he had a good understanding of the issues players deal with during their career. One of the things Marek worked on, was creating a program to support players after they finish their active career.”