Robert Lewandowski is the latest superstar addition to the plethora of world-class players getting ready to play in LaLiga Santander this season. His arrival at FC Barcelona, confirmed this week, is sure to make waves across Spanish football and beyond, as Barça look to make up ground on last season’s champions Real Madrid.
The Polish international is known around the world, and his goals and trophy cabinet have made him one of the most iconic and best strikers of the 21st century. But here are five things you may not know about him, from his sporting family to how a natural disaster changed the course of his career.
- He hails from a sporting family
Lewandowski may be one of the best footballers on the planet, but he is not the only member of his family who has dedicated himself to sport professionally. His father, Krzysztof Lewandowski, is a former judo champion, while his mother, Iwona Lewandowska, was a professional volleyball player in Poland. Milena Lewandowski, his sister, followed in his mother’s footsteps and was capped by the Polish under-21 volleyball team. And don’t forget, Robert is married to Anna Stachurska, a Polish karate star who won bronze at the 2009 World Karate Championships.
Lewandowski: ‘I’m always ready to play against Real Madrid’
Robert Lewandowski talked about the rivalry with Barça’s great enemy, Real Madrid. The Polish striker said is always ready to play El Clasico.
- He takes almost unreal care of his body
At almost 34 years of age, Lewandowski scored an incredible 50 goals in 46 games last season. Stats like that are only possible with a combination of talent and physical prowess, something the Pole takes care of almost to the extreme. His former teammate at Bayern Munich, and former Athletic Club star, Javi Martinez once said that at pre-season camp he often tried to get Robert to try some typical sweets he’d brought back from Spain. The Polish striker constantly refused, in line with his strict diet. Robert has stated on many occasions that he tries to control all factors that can determine his physical condition, even his sleeping positions, to minimize chances of injury and maximize his on-field performance.
- A generational battle with Benzema
Eight months separate the births of two great players of our time. The careers of Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have been intertwined for years, but this season marks the first occasion in which they will face-off in the same domestic competition: LaLiga Santander. They’ve been ever-present in the elite of world football for over a decade and are currently tied as the third-highest goal scorers in the history of the Champions League. Four of those goals came on one unforgettable night in Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, in which his four goals ultimately single-handedly handed the Germans a berth in the final.
- A natural disaster changed the course of his career
Back in 2010, in the summer of his move to Borussia Dortmund, Lewandowski was due to travel to the UK to visit Blackburn Rovers’ facilities ahead of a proposed move to the second-tier English side. Robert was excited about the opportunity to play in England, but his flight coincided with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, an event that disrupted all air traffic in Europe for several weeks and prevented him from travelling. “Did it change my life? No doubt, maybe if I had met with Blackburn I would have stayed there,” Lewandowski later said. He moved to German side Borussia Dortmund instead and the rest, they say, is history.
- Motoring is his hobby
Lewandowski’s interest in sport is not just limited to football. He has been spotted playing tennis, golf and, above all, attending Formula 1 races. The Polish international has been spotted at iconic grand prix events such as Monaco, to indulge in one of his big passions. “I have followed Formula 1 since I was very young and I always remember Michael Schumacher. Everything he achieved was unbelievable,” he once revealed about one of his idols and inspirations.