Our player "Radek Szaganski"

  • Nationality: Poland
  • Place of Birth: Poznan
  • Date of Birth: October 17, 1979
  • Hometown: Poznan
  • Living town: Cork ireland
  • Dart Make: MasterDarts
  • Dart Weight: 23 grams
  • Handedness: right handed
  • Year Started Playing Darts: 2007
  • Occupation: Bus Driver
  • Walk-on Song/Music: "Whisky In The Jar" by Metallica

Radek Szagański, full name Radosław Szagański, was born on October 17, 1979, in Poznań, Poland. He currently resides in Cork, Ireland. Szagański has been playing darts since 2008, is a right-handed player using 23g MasterDarts, and walks on to "Whiskey in the Jar" by Metallica. He has been competing in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) since 2014, following stints in both the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and the World Darts Federation (WDF) from 2010 to 2013​​.

Szagański's career in darts began in 2008, participating in various events mainly in Poland and Ireland. His first attempt to qualify for the BDO World Darts Championship in 2010 was unsuccessful. However, he managed to qualify for the 2010 Winmau World Masters, where he won in the first round but was eliminated in the second round. His first and only international trophy in the WDF was the Poznań Open in 2011. In the same year, he reached the fifth round of the Winmau World Masters. He became the Polish Champion in 2013. His subsequent years in the BDO were less successful.

After a break from international level play, Szagański successfully secured a two-year PDC Tour Card in 2022 by finishing sixth on the European Q-School Order of Merit. In his debut on the PDC European Tour, he lost in the first rounds of both the 2022 Austrian Darts Open and the 2022 European Darts Grand Prix. In 2023, he won Players Championship 27, achieving victories against players like Dimitri van den Bergh and Jonny Clayton before defeating Connor Scutt in the final​​.

Szagański's best performances in the PDC include reaching the last 128 in the UK Open in 2022 and 2023, and the last 32 in the Players Championship Finals in 2023. He has also achieved national success, including winning the Poznań Open in 2011 and the Polish Championship in 2013​​.

Story by Rob OHalloran 
Radek Szaganski: Bus Eireann driver who could send Barney packing from World Darts Championship. 
The Christmas period brings its traditional offering of festive entertainment; be it the tense drama of the Home Alone films or the pure theatre of The Phantom of the Opera. Want a blend of both? Look no further than the PDC World Darts Championship.
Mass crowds are set to descend on Alexandra Palace (December 15) in North London for three weeks of thrills – as will a familiar crew of Irish hopefuls dreaming of upsetting the odds on the biggest stage in the sport.
North of the border the talent pool remains strong; with latest superstar Josh Rock among a contingent which includes multiple major winner Daryl Gurney and the popular, soft-spoken veteran Brendan Dolan.
But there is a new name on the bill of Irish interest: Radek Szaganski. It is not a name which will raise the eyebrows of casual Irish viewers, nor will the fact that he plays under the Polish flag. But make no mistake, Szaganski is a product of Irish darts.
A driver for Bus Eireann in Cork, his ascent to the iconic ‘Ally Pally’ stage has not been a routine one. Pastry chef to bus driver to professional darts champion; that has been the pathway of the 44-year-old Cobh resident.
Eager to raise money to fund his wedding with his partner, he took a punt on Ireland off the back of the advice of his friends in 2006. He figured it would be a short-term switch, but 17 years have passed and Ireland is still his home. He marked that milestone by winning his first PDC title – Players Championship 27 – in October, beating major winners Jonny Clayton and Dimitri van den Bergh en route to glory.
It was that win that catapulted him into qualification for the World Championship – the biggest tournament of his career to date. It is also one that has put fans on notice.
Stunning the world of darts was not on Szaganski’s agenda when he moved from Poznan to Limerick after acquiring his bus licence.
A chance game of soft-tip darts upon meeting his sister’s new boyfriend – who “hammered” him – kickstarted his unlikely ascent.
‘We went for holidays to Poland and my sister had a new boyfriend and asked us to go to the pub to meet him,’ Szaganski told Extra.ie.
‘They had a soft-tip darts machine, and he asked if I wanted to play. I did not know he had been playing for so many years, so he absolutely hammered me.
‘I came back to Ireland, bought a board in Argos, started practicing and in six months I went back to Poland and beat him!
‘Then I looked for competition here in Ireland, so I joined the county team in Limerick before I changed job and moved to Cork.
‘I won some competitions then and thought “oh I might be good” and saw my progress going up slowly. I can see still myself going up because the results are there now, and this is the end of my second year in the PDC.’
PDC Tour Cards are handed out on a two-year basis, with players then tasked to retain them by finishing in the Top 64 of prize money in that period.
Szaganski, whose maiden season on tour did not go as he would have hoped, look destined to lose his right to play in the PDC until he found a new level of performance this season – as demonstrated by his maiden title win.
He remains in a battle to save his spot and avoid a return to ‘Q-School’ but knows what he must do at the Worlds – where a potential meeting with five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld awaits.
First, he has the challenge of overcoming Finland’s Marko Kantele – a clash he is expected to win. Then he will need to defeat the legendary Dutchman to ensure his place on Tour next season. Doing so is certainly his target.
‘That is my target, to keep the Tour Card. I know I can beat Marko and if I do, then we will see what happens against Raymond. Obviously, he has more experience; but I will try do my best.
‘The last time I played him he beat me 6-4 but it was close. I missed three darts to go 5-4 up so my confidence is there that I can beat him.’
Will he be daunted by playing a five-time champ?
‘I don’t think about him (Van Barneveld) that way because I try to play the board not the name.
‘That is what I have learned in two years playing in the PDC. Do not play the guy and think what he wants, just play theboard. I don’t even look at what the other player is doing. That is how I treat every game.’
The prospect of a Bus Eireann driver sending a five-time world champion packing in front of millions of viewers might seem ludicrous, but that is the beauty of darts. This is the sport where electrician-turned-darts pro Rob Cross won the title on debut in 2018 and where women and men compete on an even playing-field – as trailblazers Fallon Sherrock and Beau Greaves have shown.
The reality is not as bizarre as the narrative either. Szaganski is less than two points behind ‘Barney’ in the seasonal averages, a strong indication he is playing to a similar standard. He is a reigning champion, unlike the 56-year-old who is without a title for almost three years.
He does not share the same liberties as some of his fellow competitors, however. For Szaganski it is “always family and work go first and darts second”.
Consequently, family duties, full-time work and travel to-and-from events limit his opportunities to jump on the practice board.
His bus routes take him all over the Rebel County, from Skibbereen to Charleville to Clonmel in Tipperary. Shifts can be early in the morning or late in the evenings, on weekdays or on weekends.
That said, he would not be able to pursue his darts dream if Bus Eireann were not so accommodating.
‘The company really help me so if it was not for them, I would be going nowhere. When I got the PDC Tour Card, I spoke to my boss and he said they would help me.’
While Szaganski cannot play under the Irish tricolour due to regulatory reasons, he will pay homage to the place he calls home when the Sky Sports cameras are rolling.
He has had new playing shirts designed for the event – a common practice from players ahead of the biggest major in the sport.
‘I have new shirts for Ally Pally and on my collar on one side will be Poznan, my city, and the other side will be Cork.
‘I have had two designs made, one green that is green with red and another red and green; so they are like a mix of Ireland and Poland. The logo is ‘RS’ and you have the Polish eagle on one side and the Irish shamrock on the other.’
Perhaps it is those smaller details that will garner a second glance from Irish punters when the darts dominates TV screens at home and in pubs up and down the country as it always does amid the annual festivities.
Despite facing a battle to keep his Tour Card, it feels like Szaganski’s best days in darts are still ahead of him. They could come at Ally Pally in a matter of days.
One thing is for certain: Unlike so many of his opponents, he will have the benefit of two nations cheering him on.

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