Home > Football > Flying under the radar: Robert Lewandowski

Flying under the radar: Robert Lewandowski

In this, the first of a five-part series looking at players who do not get the attention their talents deserve, Sport Report looks at the story of Borussia Dortmund and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski.

In the age of internet and satellite TV access, football fans are now more familiar with players in foreign lands than ever before. It is not uncommon to hear people in an office in Manchester talking about ‘last night’s Real Madrid match’ or to see kids in English playgrounds pretending to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Lionel Messi. However, ask people you know to list some players who they feel are currently amongst the best in Europe and you are unlikely to get a list that includes the name of Borussia Dortmund’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski. This may, at least in part, be down to the fact that the Bundesliga does not have the ‘glamour factor’ of La Liga or Serie A, but Lewandowski does not get the hype afforded to others even within Germany. In short, he is one of those players that fly under the radar.

Lewandowski is, simply put, a very good all-round striker. He has two good feet, is good in the air and at six foot, offers a reasonable physical presence. He is strong and his style of play is more akin to that of an old-fashioned centre forward than that of the speed merchants we are so accustomed to seeing these days. Crucially for a striker, he is ice cold in front of goal, always giving the impression that he WILL score when he bears down on goal.

The 23 year old first came to prominence with Znicz Pruszków in Poland’s second tier. As a 19 year old, he scored 21 goals in 32 games, attracting the attention of bigger clubs from the Ekstraklasa (Poland’s equivalent of the Premier League). Eventually, Lech Poznań signed the youngster for a fee reported to be 1.5 million złoty (about £305,000) and quickly realised that they had secured a bargain.

The striker spent two seasons in Poznań, netting an impressive 32 times in 58 league matches, catching the eye of scouts from bigger clubs in the process. Borussia Dortmund, Genoa and Blackburn Rovers were all reputed to be interested but in May 2010, Dortmund’s general manager, Michael Zorc, announced that the club had secured Lewandowski’s services for a fee of €4.5 million (£3.75 million), representing a tidy profit for Lech Poznań. Since joining the Schwarzgelben Lewandowski, or Lewa as he is affectionately known by the club’s fans, has enjoyed great success.

On a personal level, his first season in Germany was solid but unspectacular. He impressed in fits and starts but took time to adapt to the quicker pace and superior technical standard of the Bundesliga. He did however, find the net eight times in 33 league appearances and Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp was more than satisfied with his overall contribution during the club’s title-winning season.

Dortmund’s title win attracted much attention within Germany as it was something of a surprise and achieved with a team of which the average age was only 24 years and two months, the youngest in Bundesliga history. It was however Mario Götze who won the plaudits, with players like Kevin Großkreutz and Shinji Kagawa lauded as the main supporting cast. Not many were raving about the contribution of the club’s Polish striker.

This has continued to some extent in to the current season, despite Lewandowski’s improved form. The striker has been simply sensational this season, scoring 16 times in 23 Bundesliga appearances and 21 in 33 matches in all competitions. Add in seven assists and you have the picture of a player bang in form. Furthermore, the Pole’s form has helped Dortmund build a four point lead at the top of the Bundesliga as they look to seal back-to-back title triumphs. In fact, it is the main reason for it. Großkreutz has struggled to hit the heights of last season, strike partner Lucas Barrios has misfired all season and club superstar Mario Götze has struggled for fitness. Lewandowski has stepped up and shown that he is a big time player and if Die Schwarzgelben do indeed go on to win the title, it will be impossible to overestimate the importance of Lewandowski’s contribution.

He still does not receive the attention given to the likes of Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski or Franck Ribery and continues to fly under the radar somewhat, but it does appear that some of Europe’s bigger clubs have started to take note. Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked with the £10-15 million rated striker, but the 23 year old’s representative, Cezary Kucharski, insists his client is happy in Germany. He did, however, tell Polish sports daily Przegląd Sportowy that a move to a major club could not be ruled out: ‘We are only interested in the top clubs, such as Chelsea or Manchester United.’

Lewandowski's goals will be crucial if Poland are to enjoy success on home soil (This image is the property of Marek Zakrzewski)

Lewandowski has also become a key part of the national set up and a player that the team looks to for inspiration. Although he is only 23, he has already amassed over 40 caps and scored 16 goals for Poland. A look through Franciszek Smuda’s squad shows very little in the way of goal scorers. The next two highest scoring strikers (Pawel Brozek and Ireneusz Jelen) have only eight and five goals respectively. Poland are looking for a good showing on home soil at this summer’s European Championships and with a group containing Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic, they have an excellent chance of progressing to the knock out stages. If they do so, Lewandowski’s goals will be a factor. If he impresses for the national team, he may even find himself on many people’s radars, perhaps even those of the biggest clubs.

Name: Robert Lewandowski

Place of Birth: Warsaw, Poland

Nationality: Polish

Date of Birth: 21st August 1988

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Previous Clubs: Delta Warsaw, Legia Warsaw, Znicz Pruszków, Lech Poznań

Career League Appearances: 146

Career League Goals: 77

Total Career Appearances: 187

Total Career Goals: 87

International Caps: 44

International Goals: 16

Categories: Football
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