The prolific Polish frontman found the going tough after moving to Germany, but his remarkable skill set was honed by the current Liverpool boss
Robert Lewandowski has revealed that a €50 goal bet with Jurgen Klopp helped to put him on a path to becoming The Best, with the current Liverpool boss forced to back out of a training ground wager while calling the shots at Borussia Dortmund.
The prolific Polish frontman was snapped up by Dortmund in 2010 and charged with the task of spearheading quests for domestic and continental glory.
Klopp, who has cemented a reputation as one of the best man managers in the business, helped to aid Lewandowski’s transition by making every aspect of his work more competitive.
The 32-year-old found that those challenges left him out of pocket early on, but the tide soon turned as he started “raking in the cash”.
Lewandowski told The Players’ Tribune of how his remarkable skill set was honed: “When I arrived [at Dortmund] I could barely speak a word of German. I knew danke. Thank you. The weather was rainy and grey. And with Klopp, the intensity in training was very, very high.
“I was desperate to make my mark, and Jurgen wanted to challenge me. So in the first few months we made a little bet. If I scored 10 goals in a training session, he’d give me 50 euros. If I didn’t, I’d give him 50 euros.
“The first few weeks, I had to pay up almost every time. He was laughing. But after a few months, the tables turned. I was the one raking in the cash.
“So one day he said, ‘Stop! OK! That’s enough. You’re ready now’.”
Lewandowski was ready, with 103 goals plundered through 187 appearances for Dortmund.
His predatory instincts were then taken to Bayern Munich in 2014, with a further 269 efforts recorded for the German champions in just 309 outings.
The Poland international has been getting better with age, with a personal best return of 55 goals in a treble-winning 2019-20 campaign allowing him to land the prestigious FIFA Best award.
Lewandowski’s legacy as one of the very best in the business is now safely secured, but he acknowledges that a number of important figures have helped him to this point.
He added: “Of course, Jurgen was not the only one who helped me get better. When I moved to Bayern, I learned so much from coaches like Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and now Hansi Flick.
“Just playing for Bayern is an educational experience really, because the demands are so high, and the club culture is so professional — you are forced to raise your standards, and you do. Still, I could not have performed the way I have without help from those close to me.”