In glowing words, Robert Lewandowski spoke of his friendship with Jurgen Klopp, saying the now Liverpool manager was the “bad teacher” who launched him on the road to grandeur.
Lewandowski started to score regularly for Znicz Pruszkow and Lech Poznan after finding life rough in his teenage years, which won him a move to Borussia Dortmund in 2010.
The start of life for Lewandowski in the Bundesliga was not smooth sailing, as he played in an unfamiliar No.10 position and found living rough in Klopp’s preparation.
Following a Champions League loss to Marseille in September 2011, things came to a head.
Klopp was approached by Lewandowski and asked his boss what he wanted from him. The Polish international picked up on what was expected of him and things flourished to the point that he earned a second Bundesliga title before securing a move to Bayern Munich, despite his German being patchy at that level.
Revealing how the Players’ Tribune established his friendship with Klopp, Lewandowski said: “Jurgen was not only a father figure to me.” As a coach, he was like a “bad” professor. And in the best sense of the word, I mean that.
“Let me clarify that. When you were in school, think back to yourself. What teacher are you most reminded of? Not the one who made it easy for you and never wanted you to have something. Oh, no, no, no. You recall that bad teacher, the one with you who was strict. The one who put you under pressure and did whatever he could to get the best out of you. This is the instructor who made you smarter, huh? And so was Jurgen.
He didn’t content himself with letting you be a B student, you know? A+ students were wanted by Jurgen. He wouldn’t have wanted that for him. He wanted you to have it.
“He’s taught me a lot. I wanted to do something quickly when I arrived in Dortmund: a good move, just one touch. Jurgen showed me to calm down – if possible, to take two touches.
It was completely against my will, but soon I had more goals to score.
He challenged me when I had that down, to speed it up again. With one touch. BANG. BANG. Objective. To speed me up, he slowed me down. It sounds easy, but it was really brilliant.
Since transferring to Bayern, Lewandowski has continued to dominate the goalscoring charts, and was named the Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2020.