It is not just the Bundesliga where Lewandowski leads the way. The Bayern front man was Europe’s top scorer in 2021, having come out on top over the course of the 2020-21 season. The Poland international is also topping the charts this season and is currently on 23 goals, five ahead of his closest challenger, Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick.
Lewandowski doesn’t just perform for his club. He is also Poland’s record scorer, having scored 74 goals since his debut in 2008. Poland’s Sportsman of the Year has registered 11 goals in 12 appearances this year – including three at UEFA Euro 2020 – with the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-offs next on the agenda.
After taking his tally to 300 Bundesliga goals against 1. FC Köln on Saturday, Lewandowski’s eyes must be trained on the all-time Bundesliga goal record. Only one man has more; Gerd Müller stands alone atop the scoring charts with 365 goals to his name.
Serge Gnabry on Lewandowski:
“I think for the last two years, he was probably the most consistently performing player. In my eyes – obviously, he is my teammate, but he has been the most consistent. He has scored so many goals which is incredible. He also broke a couple records, so I think he deserves it.”
Julian Nagelsmann on Lewandowski:
“It is well deserved for him – as I have mentioned for all the other possible personal titles. It is always deserved for him because he did so well over the last couple of seasons in the Bundesliga. He is also doing it this season and another three goals (against 1. FC Köln). He loves these situations when he can get the ball in the number 10, give it out to the wing, then follow the ball into the box. He is very dangerous, with both feet, with his head – at the end, it’s three goals again – important for us and important for him.”
Jürgen Klinsmann on Lewandowski:
“He’s a fantastic goalscorer and deserves every compliment in the world. Beating the record from Gerd Müller says it all. The titles he has won with Bayern, it’s just insane! But one of the major characteristics we have seen from Robert Lewandowski over many years now is his hunger. When he scores his first one, he wants the second or third. This is what fascinates me – just his incredible desire to score again and again and again. It seems like he’s never satisfied! That is the difference between a top striker, a great player, and another level where Lewandowski has catapulted himself over the last few years – it is fantastic to see.”
The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2021 talks about what the award means to him, how important his family has been in his development, and reveals special moments in his career.
What does it mean to you to have won the vote for The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2021?
I have to say that is a huge honour and I’m very proud of this award. Because everything that I did and that I’m doing makes me proud. I’m very happy to win these kinds of awards. Because these awards also belong to the team, because we are all together as one player.
Does winning this award motivate you even more and bring out the best in you?
If you love this sport, if you love this game like I do, it’s always easier to be motivated for the next step. It doesn’t matter how many games you won or how many awards you won. For me, it’s more important how many games are still to win, or how many titles are still to win. And this is the difference. And even after awards, even after the next title, it makes me more motivated for the next win.
How important do you think this title is for the Bundesliga as a league?
I think that every award means a lot for the league – for the team as well. Because we are playing as a team during the game and throughout the season. And all these individual awards also are important for the club. Winning titles with your team is always special – because they are the most important – but also individual awards are important, because it means that you consistently did good work. And so many people are talking about these awards, talking about these titles, so it is good not only for me but for the club and all the league as well.
Manuel Neuer was also shortlisted for the World XI. How important is Manuel’s backing for the team?
Yeah, he’s a great goalkeeper. Not only goalkeeper but he’s a great man. It doesn’t matter how old he is, he still shows that he’s the best. Even during training sessions, for me he’s the competition, I see it as a challenge to score goals against him. And also because of him I can be better. Because if you have the best goalkeeper in front of you in training sessions, the next challenge, the next step is to find the solution.
On Instagram you gave us a nice insight into your family life at the weekend. You made your daughter a pigtail with a hoover. How did that come about?
I saw some video a few months ago, on the internet of course, and I know sometimes in the morning I don’t have much time to do my daughters hair. I asked her if she will be happy if we can try doing like this. At the beginning, she was like: ‘okay, but I’m not sure’. But after we tried it, she loved it. She was so happy because of this technique, this style. And for me this was an easy job I can repeat regularly. It was also great to spend time together as well.
One more thing about your family. You once told me that you used to have to do many sports because your parents wanted you to. Describe that again. Why did they want you to play more than football?
Yeah, my parents were teachers of physical education. My father taught my class so every time when I did physical education, I expected to play football. But that wasn’t always the case. At that time I didn’t understand why we were playing other sports like basketball, handball, or volleyball, because I just wanted to play football. But later I’ve understood that other sports make me more flexible – they teach you different movements as well. Not only the typical movements of football players, and I see even now the difference between me and other players because my body is more flexible. That’s why I did a lot of other sports. Now I can be thankful. I want to say thank you to my dad for making sure I didn’t play just football.
One of the highlights of the last Bundesliga season was certainly your 41st goal of the season, which broke the Bundesliga goal scoring record. Do you still have it in your mind’s eye, and can you tell us again what happened before and after the goal was scored?
Of course I still have this moment, this whole game, in my head. Because I remember exactly that during the whole game I couldn’t score this last goal, the 41st goal. I tried to score with the left, right, again left, again right and I couldn’t score. But other players scored easily. In that moment, the last minute, the last seconds, I knew that I had to be ready, that the situation was coming. I think Leroy Sané tried to score from distance, from 20 metres, something like that. And I felt that the moment is now. I knew I was not offside, that the goalkeeper made a small mistake, and I have to be in the right place in the right moment. And after that, when I scored this goal, I didn’t exactly know what it meant but I was so happy. That impossible is possible. A legendary record – to do it means a lot for me and I was so, so happy after this goal. I couldn’t believe that I had done it!
Has anything changed in the way you are perceived since then? From whom, perhaps outside football, have you received recognition for this?
I dedicate this new record to Gerd Müller. In 49 years, nobody was close to breaking this record. And because of him, I could set the new record. He showed the heights you can achieve in the Bundesliga. But a few years ago, I thought that it’s impossible to do it like he did it, but after 49 years, I did it. And this record is so amazing and it’s something special because of him as well. Even now, it makes me proud, makes me happy, because I didn’t dream about breaking such a huge record in the Bundesliga. And I did it. All the support I got this season and the last year as well means a lot to me. Because I knew it would not be easy after my injury. I thought maybe it was impossible to score so many goals, to break this record. But when I came back, I knew that I had to work hard and still believe that it’s possible.
With 23 goals in 19 games, you are on track to beat your own record. Does this spur you on even more?
Yes. I missed a few games last year through injury, but hopefully I will be able to play 34 games this season and maintain the same level of goals. This kind of season can happen once, maybe twice if you are lucky, and you show a good performance as well. But I always try to do my best, I am always trying to keep this high level of quality. But in the end, all records for me mean something special, something extra. But I will always think about my team – about winning the title with my team.
We noticed something in the game against 1. FC Köln: You are a master at not running into offside positions. Your timing is incredibly good. Did that come with experience, or did you work on that specifically? How did that develop?
If you play football for 25 years, you know when you aren’t offside because you can see the line of defenders. I wasn’t focused only on the ball; I was also focused on the line of defenders. And I knew that I was not in an offside position. For the striker in the box, you don’t just have to think fast, you also have to see quicker than your opponent as well. And in this situation, I knew it was not offside, the goal was correct, because the movement between me and the defender was perfectly timed with the pass from Thomas. That’s why I knew – my eyes are fast enough to see the line of offside. And this situation was exactly the same.
300 Goals. A new milestone. You are the 2nd player ever to break the 300 goals mark. What does that mean to you?
I heard for the first time after the game that I scored 300 goals in the Bundesliga. It’s always better to get this information after the game, not before, because then you don’t have to think too much about it. But these kinds of numbers make me proud. 300 is something amazing, something special. Only two players have scored so many goals and I am one of them. Patience is also very important in this record. But for sure, it’s easier if the team plays well and you have lots of situations to score goals.
Only 65 to Gerd Müller’s record…
Not ‘only’, but still 65. But I don’t think about this too much. There is a long way to go before I am even close to this record. For now, I have to be focused on this season, on the next game, and not on breaking the record. I don’t think about what has got to happen for me to score the next 65 goals. It’s too far away.”
Lewandowski at a glance:
- Bundesliga Appearances: 369
- Goals: 300
- Bundesliga Top Scorer Award: 6
- Bundesliga Titles: 9
- DFB Pokals: 4
- UEFA Champions League Titles: 1
- FIFA Best Men’s Player Awards: 2
Lewandowski was also included in the FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11, lining up alongside Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and former Bayern teammate David Alaba.