Player profile: Lewandowski can fire Dortmund to European glory
It was already fairly obvious Robert Lewandowski was a decent player before the events of April 24, 2013.
As a teenager for Znicz Pruszkow, he was top scorer in the third and second tier of Polish football.
When he scored on his debut for Lech Poznan in 2008, he still had not celebrated his 20th birthday.
In that debut campaign he finished second in the Polish scoring charts. Twelve months later he was on top. Borussia Dortmund decided to take a punt on the youngster in 2010.
Although he only scored nine times in his first season, it seems Lewandowski was merely finding his feet. For, although it was not anticipated he would start much, in the following campaign an injury to Lucas Barrios forced Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp to put him in.
And, pretty quickly, it became evident Lewandowski’s ability to find the net in Polish football was not tempered much by his switch to Germany.
He scored 22 league goals last term, third in the overall list. Crucially, he was responsible for the only goal in a victory against Bayern Munich that effectively confirmed a second successive Bundesliga crowd.
A few weeks later, Lewandowski claimed a hat-trick against the same opponents in the DFB-Pokal final. This season he scored in 12 consecutive league games, a new record.
Unfazed: The German international has handled the pressure of playing for Dortmund with ease
So Lewandowski’s prowess was already pretty well known, enough to attract Manchester United and Bayern, where it is felt he will end up this summer. But April 24 was something else entirely.
April 24 was supposed to be the next stage on Jose Mourinho’s march to becoming the first man in history to win the Champions League with three different clubs.
April 24 was supposed to be another stop on Real Madrid’s ascent back to the top of the European stage.
April 24 was supposed to be an historic day. It was. Just in a way no-one imagined.
For by the end of 90 tortuous minutes for the world’s most famous club in the Westfalen Stadion, Lewandowski had become the first player to score four goals in a European Cup semi-final, the first player to score a hat-trick against Real Madrid in Champions League history and condemned
Mourinho to his biggest defeat in 106 Champions League games.
No-one thought too much about it when Lewandowski turned home Mario Gotze’s early cross, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo levelling before the break.
But in the space of 17 second-half minutes, Lewandowski had ripped Real to shreds with a ruthless display of finishing, the pick of which was his hat-trick goal as he dragged the ball away from Pepe before blasting an unstoppable shot into the roof of Diego Lopez’s net.
And so Lewandowski’s status as the world’s most marketable striker was confirmed.
Not bad for someone who had ‘legs like sticks’, according to a former coach. ‘I was always scared that others would break them.’
Lewandowski’s first professional contract was for £300-per-month. If he does sign for Bayern, he will be earning a thousand times that figure, plus some.
He might also have some explaining to do to his new team-mates. For if Dortmund are to come out on top at Wembley, it is hard to imagine that man Lewandowski not having played a pretty significant part.