The world’s best football player for 2021 and Bayern Munich’s star – Robert Lewandowski, comes from a judo family which helped him a lot in his football career.
He was elected FIFA World Player of the Year for the second time in a row last week.
Lewandowski’s father Krzysztof was Polish judo champion and also a sports teacher at his school. The Warsaw-born athlete trained with his father in judo. “He was big and strong. I was very young and I was always on the ground. Little Lewandowski was prepared for football with the flexibility of a judoka. The body control, which may also result from the judo training at that time, is one reason why Lewandowski is considered to be possibly the most versatile striker in the world.
When he was allowed to focus on football, he received a lot of support from his parents. “What my parents did for me means a lot to me,” he says. “After work, they would always take me to training. It sometimes took an hour there and an hour back.”
Shortly before Lewandowski made his professional debut, his father died from a serious illness. It was a big shock for Robert, then 16-year-old.
Famous Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp brought about the turning point when Lewandowski moved to the club in 2010, but initially struggled under Jürgen Klopp. “I had the feeling that Jürgen wanted something from me, but I didn’t really understand what,” he explains. A groundbreaking conversation between Klopp and Lewandowski brought about the turning point.
“My German was still not the best. But thanks to the few words I knew and his body language, we understood each other. We had a great conversation.” Three days later he scored a hat-trick against FC Augsburg. “It was a mental thing. And I think it had something to do with my father.”
The reason: “My conversation with Jürgen was one that I wish I could have had with my father.”
Krzysztof Lewandowski did not see what a unique athlete his son has become. Nevertheless, Robert Lewandowski believes that his father registers this in a different way. “My father looks at me from above before I go onto the pitch,” says Lewandowski. “He’s still supporting me. I’m sure of it.”