After receiving his European Golden Shoe award, Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski discussed what it takes to be at the top of his game, as well as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland and others in an exclusive interview with Kicker and ESM partners.
What does winning the European Golden Shoe mean to you?
I’m proud that I achieved first place. Although we have four fewer games in the Bundesliga than in England, Spain, Italy and France, I was only able to play 29 games last season due to an injury. That is why these 41 goals were extraordinary and they are also due to the team. This Golden Shoe belongs to the team.
Eusebio, Gerd Müller, Marco van Basten, Hristo Stoichkov, the Brazilian Ronaldo, of course Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have all won this award, what does it mean to be included on that list?
Lately I’ve shown many times that you can achieve a lot with my style of play and my performance. It’s a great honour to be among such great names. I always knew that I had to score over 30 goals to even think about winning.
Did you have a role model when you were young?
When big names like Eusebio, Gerd Müller or van Basten wrote their history is too long ago for me. I really liked Thierry Henry with his style of play, his running paths, his technique and precision in the end. I often watched his games.
What’s more important to you, beating Gerd Müller’s all-time record of most Bundesliga goals scored in a season or winning the Golden Shoe?
The record of 40 goals existed for almost 50 years. The long duration proves just how great this achievement by Gerd Müller was. It was extremely difficult for him at the time and it was a huge challenge for me now to improve that number. You can’t think of such a record every year and one thing is related to the other.
With 41 goals, you outscored Lionel Messi (30 goals) and Cristiano Ronaldo (29), is it valuable for you to have scored more than these two greats of the past decade?
It makes you proud because I have the utmost respect for both of them. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have done a lot for football and they continue to do so, they are great players.
You scored three goals against Borussia Mönchengladbach on matchday 32..
And then I knew that I now had a great chance of breaking this Bundesliga record and getting the Golden Shoe. But it wasn’t an easy situation. I felt the importance of this record for the German public. It became an incredible challenge for me that gave me a mental push. I told myself it was up to me now.
Was the pressure positive because you could do it, or negative because you could get nervous?
Sure, I was nervous knowing the story behind the record of 40 goals. I’ve learned a lot from that because it’s a lot of pressure when everyone watches you in the last two games of the season. You are so close to that record but also so far from it.
You have developed more into a team player, how did that happen?
I’ve dealt with my entire game. I wanted to maintain my hit rate but I also wanted to improve my playing style. Another person can also score the goals, it’s crucial that I help and that we win.
Can you explain why things are going so well for you? Or do you sometimes feel like you are in a beautiful dream?
My potential was always there. And I’ve known for years what to do to get it out of myself. Today I know how to work in training. So my physical condition is now better that I was when I was 25, 26 or 28. My physical foundation is in place, the age doesn’t matter. When I was 22, I changed my diet so that I could play a few more years. At the time, I didn’t know if that would help but I went through with it and it paid off. Everything that I started back then brings success today.
What other strikers do you like these days?
Actually, I concentrate on myself. But there are so many superb strikers. Erling Haaland in the Bundesliga has great potential, great desire, he is very hungry for goals and always wants more. In England there is Harry Kane and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is still on top form. Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku has uncanny power.
Are goals against Barcelona or in the Champions League in general more important to you than in the Bundesliga against a team like Bochum?
Every goal is important. Outside of Germany, people may choose one or the other. In addition, goals are more common in the Bundesliga than in the Champions League.