VBefore his first goal of the week, he took a step back, then five steps forward, so fast that the defender couldn’t follow him at the six-yard area. He pushed off with his right leg, landed on his left, and for the tenths of a second in between he bent both of his legs in the air to hit the ball on his forehead at the perfect point. That was number 250.
Before scoring his second goal that week, he took eight steps forward, then four to the side, so fast that the defender couldn’t bother him at the penalty spot. He pushed his left leg into the ground and reached out with his right to hit the ball with his foot at the perfect point. That was number 251. He only took one step before his third goal that week. He got up from his stool and opened up Gianni Infantino zu, the Fifa President, who presented him with a trophy in Munich that is harder to get than any goal: the trophy for World Footballer of the Year.
If you are the striker Robert Lewandowski – who on Thursday was the first Bundesliga professional ever to be named World Player of the Year by Fifa, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – if you watch Lewandowski in the stadium, you should look at his legs every now and then, at the little ones and up the big steps, the sprints and the jumps, the movements that come before the gates. Sometimes they are powerful, sometimes they are supple, but very often they are both. Of course, a lot of body parts are important in football, but in Lewandowski’s case, the legs reveal what he can do exceptionally well: running fast, shooting hard, holding the ball and protecting. And by the way, they also reveal something about his history: His legs are his greatest asset today, they used to be his greatest worry.
In Poland, where Lewandowski was born and raised, where they called him “Bobek” at the time, little one, they thought they knew what an incredible football player he could become, until they looked down at his body. “His legs were like chopsticks. I was afraid that an opponent would break it, ”said Krzysztof Sikorski, his youth coach. “I had legs like bicycle tubes,” says Lewandowski himself. His legs will never move as powerfully as Ronaldo’s, never as supple as Ronaldo’s Messi, but they have become what nobody in Poland would have dared to believe back then: the legs of a striker who scored 251 Bundesliga goals and is now also a world footballer. Before Ronaldo, before Messi.
Lewandowski, 32 years old, won the most important individual prize in his sport on Thursday evening. On Wednesday evening he has for the FC Bayern Munich scored twice against VfL Wolfsburg. He made the first goal from five meters with his head, the second from eleven meters with his right foot. That was enough to win 2-1. It was his Bundesliga goals 14 and 15 and his Bundesliga goals 250 and 251. Most strikers do not come up with the first value in their career. Only two have made it to the second value in the long history of the Bundesliga: Gerd Müller (365) and Klaus Fischer (268). What does Lewandowski say about this? “I’m very happy that I was able to score twice today. The last time has not been easy for us after a short preparation. “