The past 12 months have been remarkable even by Robert Lewandowski's high standards; celebrate his genius with UEFA.com.
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Robert Lewandowski's sensational performances across the past year have been rewarded after he scooped the FIFA Men's Player Award 2021.
The landmarks kept coming right to the end for the Poland striker as he set the Bundesliga record for most goals in a calendar year with his 43rd goal in their final league outing of 2021, one month after making his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance – which he celebrated with a hat-trick and an assist in Bayern's 5-2 victory over Benfica.
The 33-year-old became the competition's 42nd centurion, joining an acclaimed group of players to have amassed 100 outings or more, led by front-runner Cristiano Ronaldo, while he further cemented his place in third in the all-time UEFA Champions League top scorers chart, reaching the 80-goal mark in record time.
UEFA.com sings the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League winner's praises.
What they say
"It's not just his goals; he works really hard and is always in the right position. One of his great qualities is that he also starts a lot of attacks before sprinting into the box to wait for a cross or a pass."
Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern coach
"He's majorly important as the quality he has raises our level and you can see a country relying on him. He is always a very sensible boy, he always wants to perform. You can see all that he has achieved so far. He needs to have discipline, ambition; he always needs to push himself to the maximum."
Paolo Sousa, former Poland coach
"He is one of the most professional footballers I have ever worked with. He eats, sleeps and trains for his job. He's never injured because he focuses so much on the right diet and proper preparation."
Josep Guardiola, former Bayern coach
"He is one of the best, and maybe the best, striker in the world. He scores goals in almost every game and, of course, I think he deserves to be at the top and spoken about with [Messi and Ronaldo]."
David Alaba, former Bayern defender
"I can only keep saying the same thing: He's incredible. He keeps scoring and he's a machine. At the moment, he's the best."
Serge Gnabry, Bayern team-mate
"One of his finest qualities has always been with his back to goal, shielding the ball. The fact that he has become a world-class striker is down to his work ethic in training and his ambition. The way he motivates himself is extraordinary."
Jürgen Klopp, former Borussia Dortmund coach
"He was very thin, his legs were like sticks and I was always scared that others would break them. I wanted him to be physically stronger and even advised him to eat more bacon! I remember one season my team scored 158 goals; Robert got half of them."
Krzysztof Sikorski, Lewandowski's youth coach at Varsovia Warszawa
"In the 70s Poland had Kazimierz Deyna, in the 80s Boniek, and now we have Lewandowski. Our national team's current success is down to teamwork, but every success needs a face, and that face is Robert Lewandowski. He is absolutely world class."
Zbigniew Boniek, former Poland forward and Polish Football Association (PZPN) president
International: 128 appearances, 74 goals
UEFA club competition: 130 appearances, 90 goals
Domestic competition: 595 appearances, 429 goals
Claims to fame
• Top scorer in all three top divisions in Poland with Znicz Pruszków (third division 2006/07, second division 2007/08) and Lech Poznań (first division 2009/10).
• Scored the winning goal on his European debut as Lech Poznań won 1-0 at Xäzär Länkäran in a UEFA Cup qualifier on 17 July 2008.
• In March 2013, broke Friedhelm Konietzka's record by scoring in 12 successive Dortmund league games.
• Became the first player to hit four goals in a UEFA Champions League semi-final game as Dortmund beat Real Madrid 4-1 on 24 April 2013. The only other Pole to bag a hat-trick against the Merengues was Jan Urban, with Osasuna, in December 1990.
• Left Dortmund as the club's European top scorer with 18 goals (a record subsequently broken by Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).
• Set a world record by scoring five goals in eight minutes and 59 seconds in a 5-1 win against Wolfsburg on 22 September 2015. His haul included the fastest Bundesliga hat-trick (four minutes), and most Bundesliga goals by a substitute (five).
• Scored 82 goals in his first 100 Bundesliga games for Bayern; the best stats for any new signing in the competition's history.
• In 2015/16, became the first foreign player to net 30 goals in a single Bundesliga season (and the first player of any nationality to notch 30 since Dieter Müller in 1976/77). He matched that tally in 2016/17, emulating Gerd Müller in becoming only the second player to score 30 in back-to-back Bundesliga campaigns.
• With 295 goals, is by far the most prolific foreign goalscorer in Bundesliga history; he eclipsed Claudio Pizarro's record of 195 in March 2019.
• Reached 50 goals for 2019/20 with his double in the German Cup final: he ended the season as top scorer in both domestic competitions after his third double with Bayern.
• Scoring a staggering 41 times in 29 appearances for Bayern in 2020/21, he broke Gerd Müller's 1971/72 40-goal record for the most goals in a single Bundesliga season.
• The first Bundesliga leading marksman for four consecutive seasons, his 41-goal tally in 2020/21 also saw him crowned top scorer in Europe's big five domestic leagues.
• In September 2020, Lewandowski's strike against Schalke helped him surpass Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's total of 162 Bundesliga goals for Bayern. With 221, he's second only to Gerd Müller's career haul of 365.
• Marked his 100th Champions League appearance by becoming the fastest player to reach the 80-goal mark, compared to Lionel Messi's 102 and Ronaldo's 116. He also took his tally to 64 European goals for Bayern, surpassing Gerd Müller's record of 62.
• Set the Bundesliga record for most goals in a calendar year with 43 in 2021, bettering Gerd Müller's 1972 landmark in the 87th minute of Bayern's final game.
Poland national team
• On 10 September 2008, aged 20 years and 20 days, became the second-youngest debut goalscorer for Poland; Włodzimierz Lubański, aged 17, has the record.
• Claimed 13 goals in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying, equalling David Healy's record total for Northern Ireland in the run-up to UEFA EURO 2008.
• From 13 June 2015 to 10 June 2017, Lewandowski scored in 11 straight European Qualifiers – almost certainly a world record.
• The Eagles all-time top scorer with 74 goals, he holds a 26-goal cushion ahead of next-best Włodzimierz Lubański's 48 goals.
• Broke new ground with 16 goals in ten qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – a European record.
• Is Poland's most-capped player with 128 appearances. Jakub Błaszczykowski sits second in that ranking with 108 international outings.
What you might not know
• In an interview with UEFA.com, he credited training with his boxer dog for helping him recover from injury earlier in his career.
• His physique turned heads at Dortmund, where he was nicknamed 'The Body'.
• Dedicates his first goal for every club – and any important goals – to his father, Krzysztof, who died when the striker was a teenager; his celebration involves pointing his two index fingers upwards.
• Lewandowski's penalty against Leverkusen on 18 August 2017 was converted after the first-ever Bundesliga refereeing decision made following a video review.
• Wife Anna Lewandowska is a karate champion and fitness expert, with tabloids in Poland suggesting she is in charge of her husband's diet and work-out regimes. In December 2016, Lewandowski announced that his wife was pregnant with a goal celebration against Atlético. In May 2017, Anna gave birth to their first of two daughters.
• Off the field, he is involved in a company that builds apartments in and around Warsaw. In October 2017 he was awarded a degree in physical education from Warsaw's School of Education in Sport. His degree thesis was based on his own career and titled: 'RL 9, path to glory'.
• To avoid being pestered when he is out and about, it has been claimed that Lewandowski asks friends to call him 'Emil'.
What he says
"Is it hard talking about my work? That's the media's job! I would rather go home and focus on the next match instead. I try to switch off and don't follow what people say too much. It's more important to focus on training, work hard and put my energy into the next match – how to score more goals, how to win. That's what I try to focus on. I am a grounded, cool-headed person."
"You always need to believe in your ability. I always know there will be chances."
"Instinct does the trick sometimes, but there are things you can work on in training. If you work hard and focus on details, you may not even realise it, but you start doing certain things automatically in matches. That's the beauty of football. Even if my right foot is better than the left one, I need to work hard on both."
"When I was a very young player, six or eight, I looked up to Roberto Baggio. When I got a bit older, it was Alessandro Del Piero. And when I knew a bit more, it was Thierry Henry. His movement, his technique and the way he hit the ball and scored goals – it was great to watch that as a kid. I learned a lot from him."
What he might yet achieve
• With 300 Bundesliga goals, Lewandowski is second in the all-time rankings; his next target is Gerd Müller's national record of 365.
• Climb to second in the all-time UEFA Champions League scorers rankings; currently he lies third with 82 goals. Some way in front is a certain Messi, whose ever-growing tally is 125.