Robert Lewandowski leaves Bayern Munich at the top of his game | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW

While Robert Lewandowski was running fast in the Wolfsburg square, he encountered a rather ordinary cross. But in a split second, the pole checks his trajectory, shapes his body, and shoots a perfect air ball into the net.

Every fan has the amazing face of Pep Guardiola etched in their minds. The only appropriate response to the fifth goal in nine minutes.

Lewandowski has conjured countless incredible feats, but so far this has been the defining moment of his career. It was the catalyst that propelled him to become one of the strikers of Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga, and the world’s greatest strikers of all time.

Since then, he has scored more than 40 goals in seven consecutive seasons, breaking Gerd Muller’s record of 41 goals in a single Bundesliga season and winning all there is with Bayern Munich.

And he’s not finished. When the league season begins, Lewandowski will be in the Barcelona jersey, approaching his 34th birthday, with the goal of surpassing his illustrious achievements.

Lewandowski has been confirmed as the best player in the world in 2020.

He rejected the Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s Best Player award

His outstanding professionalism – he attended Bayern coaching even as his departure from the club approached – and his drive to improve made him better with age.

On an individual level and as part of the Bayern Munich group, he has nothing left to prove. In the 2019-20 season, he scored an astonishing 55 goals, as Bayern won the treble, netting 15 goals in the Champions League to seal what was the only piece that eluded him.

He absurdly denied being awarded the Ballon d’Or, receiving the FIFA Player of the Year award for that season’s backstory. It’s really hard to gauge how dominant this Bayern dynasty is without Lewandowski.

“Klopp slowed me down to speed me up”

Lewandowski never stopped working, despite early setbacks. He was told he was too skinny while playing for Poland’s under-15 national team. When he was released by Legia Warsaw at the age of 17, he was forced to start his career from the lower divisions.

“How he pushed himself to be a player he is today is exceptional,” Jürgen Klopp, who signed with Borussia Dortmund in 2010, once said.

Lewandowski played a key role in the Dortmund team that twice beat Bayern in the Bundesliga title, and truly declared himself with a hat-trick against future employers in the 2012 German Cup Final.

Jürgen Klopp and Robert Lewandowski hug after a Bundesliga match between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in 2014.

Lewandowski has credited the ‘genius’ Klopp for honing his playing style during their time together at Dortmund

Lewandowski has also had the privilege of learning from two of the best coaches in the world. Under Klopp’s leadership, he honed his ability to build attacks as a No. 10, perfecting his shot. “He slowed me down to speed me up. It sounds simple, but it was really genius.”

And when Pep Guardiola brought him to Bayern Munich, his positional awareness flourished: “He taught me many things about football – tactics, movement with the ball, the structure of the game.”

He also worked under Jupp Heynckes, an innovator at Hansi Flick, as his inner obsession grew to constantly expand his repertoire to become a full-fledged striker.

“It’s not just about his goals – he’s working really hard and he’s always in the right place… He also starts a lot of attacks,” Flick said.

He has scored 20% of his goals at Bayern with his left foot and in the past few seasons has increased his aerial threat (39 goals in the last four seasons compared to 36 in the previous eight).

“The most professional player I’ve met in my life”

Unlike many of the stars in the game, he didn’t have a team built around him. He arrived at Bayern Munich simply to act as a cog in Guardiola’s carefully orchestrated system and subscribe to the team’s mentality first.

His dedication to fitness is legendary, with carefully designed dietary rules (dessert first, protein last) and strict sleeping habits (from shedding light, to lying on his left side). His injury record is incredibly clean, and the main reason behind Bayern’s success is that he has never had to continue playing without his main striker.

Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring a goal for Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski’s success is partly due to his fitness regimen.

He has only missed more than two consecutive games through injury on three occasions, the longest of which has been six games in the 2020-21 season.

“What I admire most about him is his professionalism, his ambition, his passion, his hunger and his fitness,” Heynckes said of the ninth-place finisher.

Guardiola agreed, saying, “He’s the most professional player I’ve ever met. He thinks about the right food, sleep and training, 24 hours a day.”

The last chapter of Lewandowski

Bayern Munich will not have a plan to replace him, because there can be no legitimate scheme ready to replace such a player.

The Bundesliga left less than Muller’s record of 365 goals. But he was also the most prolific, scoring 312 goals every 99 minutes on average.

His move to La Liga is entirely down to his own ambitions and motivations, however, his view from the outside that he has the status of a flat-track bully in the Bundesliga, will certainly be in the back of his mind.

Lewandowski has nothing left to prove, he has won everything. But now he has the opportunity to add to his legacy as one of the game’s greatest strikers of all time.

Edited by: Michael da Silva

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