Robert Lewandowski on Bayern, Dortmund and his century of UEFA Champions League appearances – interview
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
"I always dreamed of playing and scoring in the Champions League; the first time I was on the pitch, my entire skin felt different." Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski talks UEFA.com through his UEFA Champions League career.
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Ranked third in the list of the all-time UEFA Champions League top scorers behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski continues to find the net at an extraordinary rate in the world's top club competition.
The leading goalscorer in this Champions League campaign with 12 goals, Lewandowski is hoping to match his 2019/20 achievement, when he won the competition with Bayern and finished on top with 15 goals. To celebrate his recent milestone of 100 UEFA Champions League appearances, the Poland international spoke to UEFA.com.
On passing a century of UEFA Champions League appearances
I am very proud. I remember very well when I was at home watching the Champions League in front of the TV. I always dreamed of playing in the Champions League and scoring in this competition. Today, I have played [more than] 100 matches in the Champions League and scored over 80 goals. That means a great deal to me.
Every game feels very special. They are matches that everyone around the world watches, and this is a bonus that makes me feel very proud. I still have a very special feeling ahead of every Champions League match. That makes me feel very proud.
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On his footballing upbringing
I would say that football played the biggest role in my childhood. I remember when I was young, I played football every spare minute; it was always on my mind. Everything I did was to achieve my dream and my goal of playing in the stadium when I grew up.
Robert Lewandowski factfile
Born: 21 August 1988, Warsaw, Poland
UEFA club competition appearances/goals: 129/92
UEFA Champions League appearances/goals: 104/85
International appearances/goals: 128/74
[Being let go by Delta Warszawa] made me stronger, not just as a football player but also as a person. Back then it was a rather difficult situation for me as a younger player, especially as I lost my father just one year before that situation with Warszawa. I felt like I had to decide between two paths. One option was to take football less seriously and just leave it, and the other option was to continue doing it and believe that they had simply made a mistake. It was a clear decision for me to continue focusing on football and to continue fighting.
On leaving Poland for Dortmund
It was a very difficult decision but I knew I had to go abroad. I wanted to show everyone that I was the right striker, the right person, at the right club. I experienced a lot there; I showed everyone the football player I wanted to be, and I wanted to show I could be better. I achieved that and I managed to show people. I am really thankful for what I achieved playing for Borussia Dortmund and for what we won. We created history for the club.
Before [making my UEFA Champions League debut at Dortmund], I had just seen and heard the Champions League on television. The first time I was on the pitch, I was a little disappointed that the anthem was not as loud as on TV. But it's all part of it, being nervous, the adrenaline; my entire skin felt different. I thought: "Wow, this is real. This is not a dream. I'm not sitting on the sofa, I'm standing on the pitch to play in the Champions League."
On making the next step up with Bayern
I wanted to go to Bayern because I wanted to compete at the highest level and win the biggest trophies. When I found out that Bayern were interested in me, it became very clear to me that I wanted to go. It was like going one step higher on the ladder but I was conscious that I needed to show even more. On the very first day at Bayern, I knew that with the players around me I would benefit a lot every day in every training session. After two or three months, I already felt that I had become a better player.
Which trophies has Robert Lewandowski won?
1 UEFA Champions League (Bayern 2019/20)
1 UEFA Super Cup (Bayern 2020)
10 league titles (Lech Poznań 2009/10; Borussia Dortmund 2010/11, 2011/12; Bayern 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21)
5 domestic cups (Lech Poznań 2008/09; Borussia Dortmund 2011/12; Bayern 2015/16, 2018/19, 2019/20)
On winning a domestic double, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup in 2020
It wasn't exactly easy at the beginning of the season. We didn't start very well, didn't play well. Then Hansi Flick arrived and everything changed; victory after victory, we worked amazingly well. With the football we played, every opponents were afraid ahead of the game, and we won every single match in the Champions League. That was historic; it had never happened that anyone had won every single game from the group stage to the final. And we did.
It was not only that we won the matches, but the incredible thing was also how we won them: in the group stage we beat Tottenham [Hotspur] 7-2, in the quarter-finals [we beat] Barcelona [8-2], and we won the semi-final [against Lyon] 3-0 as well. Then the final against [Paris Saint-Germain]. Everything is possible in a final, but that day, we just knew that we were going to win. Our confidence was extremely high. Of course, we respected our opponents, but deep inside, we felt and knew that we just had to win it.