Robert Lewandowski has revealed the details of a training ground bet he once made with Jurgen Klopp, while discussing the importance of his relationship with the current Liverpool manager.
Lewandowski was crowned 2020 FIFA World Player of the Year after a sparkling season in which he won the treble with Bayern Munich, as well as being the top scorer in the Bundesliga and Champions League.
The 32-year-old Poland international, who was also ranked as 90min‘s best footballer on the planet in 2020, made his name at Borussia Dortmund under the management of Klopp back at the start of the decade.
Lewandowski scored 103 goals in 187 games for Dortmund, twice lifting the Bundesliga title, after moving from Lech Poznan in 2010. However, the man himself has admitted his first season (in which he only netted nine times in 43 games) was difficult.
Writing for The Players’ Tribune, Lewandowski revealed how one of the ways in which Klopp helped his new forward to settle in Germany was with a little training ground wager.
“When I arrived I could barely speak a word of German. I knew danke. Thank you. I knew scheisse. The weather was rainy and grey. And with Klopp, the intensity in training was very, very high,” Lewandowski recalled.
“I was desperate to make my mark, and Jürgen wanted to challenge me. So in the first few months we made a little bet. If I scored 10 goals in a training session, he’d give me 50 euros. If I didn’t, I’d give him 50 euros.
“The first few weeks, I had to pay up almost every time. He was laughing. But after a few months, the tables turned. I was the one raking in the cash.
“So one day he said, “Stop! O.K.! That’s enough. You’re ready now.”
Lewandowski also told another story highlighting ‘bad teacher’ Klopp’s unique management skills, intelligence and impressive sense of smell!
He wrote: “Jürgen was not only a father figure to me. As a coach, he was like the ‘bad’ teacher. And I mean that in the best sense of the word.
“He was not content to let you be a B student, you know? Jürgen wanted A+ students. He didn’t want it for him. He wanted it for you.
“Jürgen never forgot that we were humans first and footballers second. I remember one time we were in the dressing room after having a weekend off. And, you know, the classic trick when a player has been out drinking is to eat a lot of garlic the morning after, so that your breath doesn’t stink of alcohol. So Jürgen came in before training and began sniffing around.
“He was like a hunting dog. Sniff, sniff. Sniff, sniff… Finally, he said, ‘I smell … something … is it garlic?’
“Of course he knew that it was. And we knew that he knew. But he just left the question hanging in the air and walked away without saying a word more.
“It was silent for a moment, and then we all looked at each other and started laughing.
‘The lesson: Never try to fool Jürgen Klopp. The man’s too smart!”
Read Robert Lewandowski’s full piece ‘The Movie’ only on The Players’ Tribune.