For Robert Lewandowski this past season, you couldn’t write a better script for the Bayern Munich ace. With the last kick of the football in Bayern’s ninth consecutive Bundesliga title-winning season, Lewandowski scored his 41st goal of the campaign in the 5-2 win over FC Augsburg. That goal broke Gerd Müller’s 40-goal, single season Bundesliga record that had stood since 1972.
Even more impressively, the Polish talisman achieved the feat having missed a crucial stretch for Bayern due to a knee injury that caused him to miss four Bundesliga matches in the Rückrunde and both Champions League Quarterfinal legs against Paris Saint-Germain. Before sustaining the knee injury, he was six goals shy of the record, and he scored as many from Bayern’s remaining four Bundesliga matches, including a hat-trick against Borussia Monchengladbach. Even Lewandowski himself is still finding it hard to believe what he accomplished, as he revealed in an interview with Poland’s national team web site, Pzpn.pl.
“I don’t fully realize it yet. Of course I am very proud and happy but I think it will only get through to me with time. This event aroused great emotions in Poland and Germany. It wasn’t easy but I broke that record. However, I must admit that I thought it was impossible to do,” Bayern and Poland’s number 9 explained. He came close in Bayern’s treble-winning 2019/20 season, scoring 34 Bundesliga goals, but he also topped the scoring charts in the Champions League (10) and DFB-Pokal (5) that season.
The knee injury was definitely something Lewandowski admitted played on his mind when he faced a four week spell on the sidelines at a crucial period for Bayern. “In the meantime, I was having trouble with an injury, the timing of which was pretty bad. Two-three weeks can change a lot in football, negatively or positively. I knew it could be tough but that four at the beginning of my goal-scoring record looks great. I surprise myself year after year and I’m proud of it,” he said. The four, of course, referring to his 4-goal outing against Hertha Berlin in the Hinrunde at the Allianz Arena.
Lewandowski scored his 40th of the season in the 2-2 draw with SC Freiburg, and he came ever so close a handful of times to also bagging his 41st in that match. Had it not been for some fantastic saves from Mark Flekken, Lewandowski easily would’ve broken the record on that rainy afternoon at the Schwarzwald-Stadion. For that occasion in the Black Forest, though, it just wasn’t to be and the fairytale ending of breaking the record with the last kick of the football for Bayern against Augsburg was as climactic of a finish as you could’ve asked for.
Even as Bayern was creating chances left and right against Augsburg, Lewandowski just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net throughout most of proceedings and compatriot Rafał Gikiewicz had done well to deny him a handful of times. The more Lewandowski created in that match, the more it seemed like the record was going to slip through his fingertips, he admitted: “There were moments in this match where I started laughing to myself, asking myself if this record could be broken or if it was doomed. I had so many goal-scoring opportunities, with my left foot, with my right foot, with my head...”
“...In football, it is impossible to plan everything out but that’s beautiful. There was some doubt for fifteen or twenty minutes of the second half, but in the last ten, this feeling came back to me that I had to be prepared, that there was still something to come. If someone wrote a book and wrote that I would do it this way, you could say it was just Hollywood and fiction. But these last few matches, the circumstances... I myself would have preferred to score faster but my patience and faith meant that I eventually managed to break that half-century record,” he continued.