Robert Lewandowski — a world class striker who needs no introduction. Bayern Munich’s prolific number 9 has established himself as one of the best goal-scorers in the business, but it was his humble beginnings in Poland that shaped him into the talent he is today.
In a recent interview with BBC Sport, Lewandowski revealed who one of his main footballing idols was as a kid and he also talked about how much he developed under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, where he spent four years of his career.
Growing up in Poland, there weren’t many native Polish superstars when Lewandowski was a kid, so he idolized other players in Europe. In particular, he said his favorite striker was Arsenal’s Thierry Henry:
When I was six, I remember Roberto Baggio at the 1994 World Cup. When I was between 10 and 14, Alessandro del Piero was the best player for me. Then my idol was Thierry Henry. He was amazing — it was not just how he scored the goals but what he did for the team. When he was at Arsenal, I remember how easily he scored goals from different situations. He could score from the left side into the far corner with his right foot. It was so easy for him — I wanted to score a lot of goals too and I could learn from him.
Lewandowski finally got the chance to meet Henry when Bayern took on Arsenal in the Champions League in March, 2017 and proceeded to beat them 5-1 at the Emirates. Meeting Henry, Lewandowski admitted, was like having his dreams come true full circle:
I remember when I met Henry, I was like “wow, I met my childhood idol.” Now he wants my jersey and I think, “amazing.” I believe that dreams come true.
Having played for several different clubs in Poland before eventually moving to Germany, Lewandowski said, “I never met a coach who said I could be a top player.” When he finally moved to Dortmund from Lech Poznań in 2010, his abilities really started to come to fruition. The first six months training under Jurgen Klopp, however, were a lot more than he had anticipated, Lewandowski revealed, and it took him a while to get used to it:
I remember the first six months at Dortmund, the training was very hard under Jürgen Klopp. I was very young and wanted to show everyone I could do it 110% in every training session. After two or three months, I was very tired and could not show all my skills. It was too much for me and I needed three months lighter training to get back to form. When I think about it now, I learned a lot. After the first few months my body was ready to work harder. Around November I scored a lot of goals and my team-mates said “Robert is back,” and I knew then I could show all my skills.
With Dortmund, Lewandowski scored 103 goals in 187 games and helped them to two Bundesliga titles and a DFB-Pokal win in 20212. After joining Bayern in the winter of 2014, the rest is history!