Scoring goals is the bread-and-butter of every striker.
Across the globe, you’ll find plenty of forwards who can fire home goal after goal after goal, but to us at 90min, we need more than just an impressive goal record to describe a player as ‘world class’.
As you should have seen in our earlier breakdown of this series, we’re judging players on a whole host of different attributes. Of course, number of goals is the primary thing we want from a striker, but we also want things like reliability, consistency and the ability to translate those goals into success.
There are a lot of boxes to fill and it’s a system which we feel gives us a fair representation of the strikers out there, but it still wasn’t enough to do justice for Bayern Munich hitman Robert Lewandowski.
When discussing every player in our contenders list, we managed to find at least one reason why each cannot be described as ‘perfect’, but Lewandowski was different. He broke the metric by being the only man to max out each criterion which we set.
What makes Lewandowski so special is that we weren’t even surprise to see him break the system. The Bayern man has made a habit out of completely obliterating expectations in recent years, so much so that to see him do it one more time hardly felt noteworthy.
Yeah, obviously Lewandowski is too good. As per.
“He’s no longer just the best number nine in the world. Robert is the most complete and best player there is in world football.”
– Lother Matthaus
After all, this is a man who played 47 games for his club last year and managed a return of 55 goals and ten assists. He only failed to score in nine matches in all competitions, one of which saw him come off the bench.
While those numbers are clearly ridiculous (even for Lewandowski), they’re to be expected. The Pole has been doing this for years. This is a man who needed just 332 games to score 250 goals in the Bundesliga – only the legendary Gerd Muller has reached that total faster.
There’s consistency, and then there’s Lewandowski consistency.
They’re not empty numbers, either. Lewandowski has eight Bundesliga titles to his name, recently lifted the Champions League for the first time and was awarded with The Best FIFA Men’s Player award. He would have almost certainly had the Ballon d’Or in his hands as well, had the award not been postponed because of COVID-19.
Not only is he scoring goals, but he’s shattering records while competing against Europe’s elite, and he’s got the trophy cabinet to show for it. No player epitomises what it means to be world class like Lewandowski.
Few can sum up Lewandowski’s current greatness quite like German legend Lothar Matthaus, who argued the striker’s case to win his latest individual accolade in his Sky Sports column.
“As the name suggests, there can only be one who is the best. That is Robert Lewandowski,” Matthaus said. “He’s no longer just the best number nine in the world. Robert is the most complete and best player there is in world football.
“With FC Bayern he has won the five big titles that can be won. Champions League, Bundesliga, DfB-Pokal, DfL-Supercup and UEFA Super Cup. In addition, he was also the top scorer in the first three competitions mentioned.
“His rivals Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe are all fantastic players – just like Lewy. The difference is he has won every title there was to be won. Messi had a season without a trophy, Ronaldo became Italian champion, is still great, but not as strong as a few years ago.”
Lewandowski has always aimed high. As a child, he based his game on emulating the success of Roberto Baggio, Alessandro Del Piero and Thierry Henry, but there was a period during which it all seemed like an impossible goal.
When he was 17, Lewandowski struggled with the death of his father. A year later, a major knee injury saw him released from Legia Warsaw. Not only was his football dream in tatters, but his life was at risk of falling apart.
It was here that Lewandowski developed his elite mentality. Despite such awful setbacks, nothing was going to stop him in his pursuit of glory.
He took care of his body and spent hours upon hours perfecting his craft to the point that nobody could ignore him. His primary focus was to score goals and succeed, and here we are, 15 years later, and not a single thing has changed. Eat, sleep, dominate, repeat.
Lewandowski has spent his entire career bettering himself, proving he can score at higher and higher levels. Now, at 32 years old, he has proved he is the best striker in world football.
Nobody deserves to be described as world class quite like Lewandowski.