He has scored in his last nine European Qualifiers for Poland, is the only player to score four in a UEFA Champions League semi-final, and once struck five inside nine minutes in a Bundesliga game. In any other era, Robert Lewandowski would have been the biggest name in European football; UEFA.com celebrates ‘Lewangoalski’.
What they say
“He is one of the most professional footballers I have ever worked with. He eats, sleeps and trains for his job. He’s never injured because he focuses so much on the right diet and proper preparation.”
Josep Guardiola, former Bayern München coach
“One of his finest qualities has always been when he’s with his back to goal, shielding the ball. The fact that he has become a world-class striker is down to his work ethic in training and his ambition. The way he motivates himself is extraordinary.”
Jürgen Klopp, former Borussia Dortmund coach
“He was very thin, his legs were like sticks and I was always scared that others would break them. I wanted him to be physically stronger and even advised him to eat more bacon! I remember one season my team scored 158 goals; Robert got half of them”
Krzysztof Sikorski, Lewandowski’s youth coach at Varsovia Warszawa
“He will break all our most significant records. Not just mine – 48 goals for the national team – but the number of caps too. Michał Żewłakow’s record of 102 caps will be Robert’s sooner or later. I am pretty sure he can score 60 goals for Poland.” Włodzimierz Lubański, Poland’s top international scorer
“In 70s Poland had Kazimierz Deyna; in 80s, Boniek, and now we have Lewandowski. Our national team’s current success is down to teamwork, but every succes needs a face, and that face is Robert Lewandowski. He is absolutely world class.”
Zbigniew Boniek, former Poland forward and Polish Football Association (PZPN) president
International: 85 appearances, 42 goals
UEFA club competition: 80 appearances, 43 goals
Domestic competition: 368 appearances, 219 goals
Claims to fame
• Top scorer in all three top divisions in Poland with Znicz Pruszków (third division 2006/07, second division 2007/08) and Lech Poznań (top division, 2009/10).
• In March 2013, broke Friedhelm Konietzka’s record by scoring in 12 successive Dortmund league games.
• Became first player to his four goals in a UEFA Champions League semi-final game as Dortmund beat Real Madrid 4-1 on 24 April 2013. The only other Pole to score a hat-trick against the Merengues was Jan Urban, with Osasuna, in December 1990.
• Left Dortmund as their European top scorer with 18 goals (record subsequently broken by Marco Reus, 23, and matched by Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang).
• Set a world record by scoring five goals in eight minutes and 59 seconds in a 5-1 win against Wolfsburg on 22 September 2015. Haul included the fastest Bundesliga hat-trick (four minutes), and most Bundesliga goals by a substitute (five).
• Made it to 100 Bundesliga goal in 168 games on 26 September 2015, a record for a foreign player.
• In 2015/16, became the first foreign player to score 30 goals in a single Bundesliga season (and the first player of any nationality to score 30 since Dieter Müller in 1976/77).
• With 128 goals, is the top-scoring Polish-born player in Bundesliga history, having overtaken Miroslav Klose (121) and Martin Max (126).
Poland national team
• On 10 September 2008, aged 20 years and 20 days, became second youngest debut goalscorer for Poland; Włodzimierz Lubański, aged 17, holds the record.
• Scored 13 goals in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying, matching David Healy’s record tally for Northern Ireland in the run-up to UEFA EURO 2008.
What you might not know
• In an interview with UEFA.com, he credited training with his boxer dog for helping him recover from injury earlier in his career.
• His wife Anna Lewandowska is a karate champion and fitness expert, with local tabloids in Poland suggesting that she is in charge of her husband’s diet and work-out regimes.
• His physique turned heads at Dortmund, where he was nicknamed ‘The Body’.
• He dedicates his first goal for every club – and any important goals – to his father, Krzysztof, who died when the striker was a teenager; his celebration involves pointing his two index fingers upwards.
• It is reported that, due to advertising commitments, Lewandowski is forbidden from growing a beard or moustache.
• He is a massive figure in Poland, where he is inundated with offers to invest in local businesses, and pleas to help people out with their debts. Off the field, he is involved in a company which builds apartments in and around Warsaw.
What he says
“Is it hard talking about my work? That’s the media’s job! I would rather go home and focus on the next match instead. I try to switch off and don’t follow what people say too much. It’s more important to focus on training, work hard and put my energy into the next match – how to score more goals, how to win. That’s what I try to focus on. I am a grounded, cool-headed person.”
“You always need to believe in your skills. I always know there will be chances.”
“Instinct does the trick sometimes but there are things you can work on in training. If you work hard and focus on details, you may not even realise it, but you start doing certain things automatically in matches. That’s the beauty of football. Even if my right foot is better than the left one, I need to work hard on both of them.”
“When I was a very young player, six or eight, I looked up to Roberto Baggio. When I got a bit older, it was Alessandro Del Piero. And when I knew a bit more, it was Thierry Henry. His movement, his technique and the way he hit the ball and scored goals – it was great to watch that as a kid. I learned a lot from him.”
What he might achieve yet
• He is six shy of Lubański’s record of 48 goals for Poland; on current form, he should break it in spring 2017. He is already Poland’s record scorer in competitive games with 27 goals, having eclipsed Lubański’s total of 25.
• He scored a personal best 49 goals in a single year in 2015; with 41 so far in 2016, he could yet better that before the winter break.
• With 128 Bundesliga goals so far, he could yet overhaul Claudio Pizarro (190) as the German top division’s most prolific foreign scorer (though, at 38, Pizarro is still banging them away for Werder Bremen.
• He has scored 19 Bayern goals in Europe – half as many as team-mate Thomas Müller and 43 fewer than Gerd Müller’s club record of 62. However, he needs just five more to match Giovane Elber as the club’s top foreign scorer in Europe.
• In his first 56 UEFA Champions League games, Lewandowski scored 36 goals – the same amount Lionel Messi scored at the same stage of his career. Are his golden years yet to come?