The 18th player to reach 50 UEFA club competition goals, Robert Lewandowski is also 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, the 30-year-old would have been the biggest name in European football; UEFA.com pays homage to ‘Lewangoalski’ as he prepares to win his 100th Poland cap.
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 former leading international goalscorer
“In the 70s Poland had Kazimierz Deyna; in the 80s, Boniek, and now we have Lewandowski. Our national team’s current success is down to teamwork, but every success 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: 99 appearances, 55 goals
UEFA club competition: 98 appearances, 53 goals
Domestic competition: 439 appearances, 287 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 (first division, 2009/10).
• Scored the winning goal on his European debut as Lech Poznań won 1-0 at Xäzär Länkäran in a UEFA Cup qualifier on 17 July 2008.
• In March 2013, broke Friedhelm Konietzka’s record by scoring in 12 successive Dortmund league games.
• Became the first player to hit 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 the club’s European top scorer with 18 goals (record subsequently broken by Marco Reus and 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).
• Scored 82 goals in his first 100 Bundesliga games for Bayern; the best record for any new signing in the competition’s history.
• 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). He matched that tally in 2016/17, emulating Gerd Müller in becoming only the second player to score 30 in back-to-back Bundesliga seasons.
• With 183 goals, is the top-scoring Polish-born player in Bundesliga history, having overtaken Miroslav Klose (121) and Martin Max (126).
• Reached 50 goals in UEFA club competition with a strike against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 5 December 2017.
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.
• From 13 June 2015 to 10 June 2017, Lewandowski scored in 11 successive European Qualifiers: almost certainly a world record.
• Broke Lubański’s all-time record of 48 goals for Poland when he scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 European Qualifiers defeat of Armenia on 5 October 2017.
• Broke new ground with 16 goals in ten qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – a new European record.
• In terms of goals-per-competitive international game, Lewandowski is the only current European player ranked in the all time top ten.
What you might not know
• In an interview with UEFA.com, he credited training with his boxer dog for helping him to recover from injury earlier in his career.
• His wife Anna Lewandowska is a karate champion and fitness expert, with tabloids in Poland suggesting that she is in charge of her husband’s diet and work-out regimes. In December 2016, Lewandowski announced that his wife was pregnant with a goal celebration against Atlético, later revealing that the celebration was carefully planned. In May 2017, she gave birth to their daughter.
• 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.
• Lewandowski’s penalty against Leverkusen on 18 August 2017 was converted after the first-ever Bundesliga refereeing decision made following a video review.
• Off the field, he is involved in a company which builds apartments in and around Warsaw, and in October 2017 he was awarded a degree in physical education from Warsaw’s School of Education in Sport. His degree thesis was based on his own career, and titled: ‘RL 9, path to glory.’
• In order to avoid being pestered when he is out and about, it has been claimed that Lewandowski asks his friends to call him ‘Emil’.
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
• Become the Bundesliga’s top foreign scorer: still-active Claudio Pizarro (192) set the mark. Lewandowski is now second on 183.
• He has scored 29 Bayern goals in Europe, Gerd Müller’s club record of 62 is still a way off, but crazier things have happened.