Robert Lewandowski is quite simply a phenomenon – a goalscoring freak of nature who deserves to be regarded among the very best. But why doesn’t he get the recognition he deserves? Dave Tindall investigates…..
A trip back in time to Robert Lewandowski’s early life reveals a story that his parents – mother Iwona and father Krzysztof – decided on the name ‘Robert’ as it would be easy for foreigners to pronounce when he became famous.
“My husband knew we were going to raise a footballer. That’s why he is Robert,” explained Iwona. “Travelling through Europe, Krzysztof witnessed how important it would be to have an internationally recognisable name.”
Such a move may come across as slightly presumptuous but both parents were athletes themselves so realised their son came from strong sporting stock.
It’s a nice tale and clearly worked out well but imagine if they’d added an ‘o’ on the end and made up a backstory than the family were Brazilian.
Robert Lewandowski is a very famous and well-lauded footballer. But for one whose goalscoring feats are so astonishing, does the praise go far enough? Would it be different if he came from a traditional football superpower such as Brazil rather than a European middleweight like Poland?
After his fantastic first season at Liverpool, Mo Salah was being talked of as the one who could break the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly at the top of the footballing tree. But while he had some nice tricks and scored a few beauties, the thing that thrust Salah forward to be mentioned in the same breath was his sheer weight of goals.
Salah scored 45 goals in 53 appearances for Liverpool in that stunning debut campaign. The numbers dropped off in his second season although he still shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot.
Getting to 20 is impressive, 30 is magnificent while banging in 40 or above is in very, very elite territory.
And yet, Lewandowski does this year on year. After peaking with 36 at Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp – “he (Klopp) released that striker’s instinct in me,” Lewandowski once said. “I didn’t know that I still had so much potential inside of me. He saw something in me that I couldn’t see” – he’s reached the 40-goal mark domestically every season since 2015-2016.
The No. 9 scored 42 in that campaign, 42 the following season, 41 in 2017-2018 and 40 in 2018-19.
To do that four seasons running is extraordinary and also a tribute to his durability in a sport where so many in his position – think Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero – pick up injuries.
But, remarkably, despite the miles in those 31-year-old legs, he’s getting even better! It’s only just gone Christmas and Lewandowski has already smashed in 30 goals this season, 19 in the Bundesliga, one in the cup and 10 in the Champions League.
So, again, why do we not revere this goalscoring machine even more?
Could it be style? Roy Keane was once described as the most straightforward footballer to achieve world-class status. Keane didn’t have an astonishing turn of pace or possess mazy dribbing skills but he was absolutely worth his weight in gold.
Perhaps Lewandowski is along the same lines. He’s quick but not gazelle-like and won’t beat five men to score a goal. Watch highlight reels of his goals and it’s left foot, right, foot, header (lots of headers).
A first-time shot, or control, shift, hit. An economy of effort. Making the hardest and most important thing in the game – putting the ball in the back of the net – look ridiculously simple.