It would inevitably have been a story of two strikers when England met Poland at Wembley on Wednesday evening.
After all, comparisons between Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski are only natural. Both are excellent at what they do, modern masters of the art of scoring and both have the amazing numbers to back it up.
With that in mind, it’s fortunate for England that Lewandowski pulled out of the World Cup qualifier with a knee injury while trying to take command of their group.
Robert Lewandowski faced England for Poland on Wednesday, before the injury struck
He would face Harry Kane from England, who scored against Albania on Sunday
But even if they are not going to work together this week, it may well be that the Bayern Munich man Kane offers a glimpse into his own future.
Lewandowski, 32, is scaling ever-greater heights for his club, collecting medals for fun, and doing his part to completely erase the myth that footballers are over the hill by the age of 30.
His stunning return of 55 goals in 47 games last season helped Bayern to a stunning Treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
Right now, he has his sights set on beating Gerd Muller’s record of 40 Bundesliga goals in one season, a record that has stood for nearly 50 years.
Lewandowski has yet to score six goals in Bayern’s last eight games and will pray that this injury setback isn’t too serious.
Lewandowski continues to rise in terms of scoring and trophy wins at Bayern
The 32-year-old striker seems to get even better with age and has scored a huge number of goals every season
But Lewandowski’s success came after he made the decision to leave Borussia Dortmund
But his stratospheric rise would not have been possible without the difficult decision Lewandowski made in 2014 to leave Borussia Dortmund and join their bitter rivals Bayern.
And with England captain Kane, 27, tormenting about his own personal ambitions to win the highest accolades in the game and the magnitude of Tottenham’s current potential to do just that, Lewandowski could be the perfect case study.
It’s no secret that Spurs appears to be slipping backwards with Jose Mourinho in the lead. They could still win the Carabao Cup this season to end a 13-year trophy drought, but serious questions are already being raised about the manager’s future.
If Kane, who turns 28 in the summer, goes another season without cutlery, you have to wonder how long he will stay with Spurs as many clubs with greater potential for trophies are interested in him.
Indeed, a single Carabao Cup on this exceptional striker’s resume at this stage of his career is extremely disappointing, regardless of the Golden Boots and other personal accolades.
Kane has not won any silverware with Tottenham and is attracting interest from other clubs
The forward’s chances of silverware appear to be diminishing with Jose Mourinho in charge of Spurs
Bundesliga 2010-11, 2011-12
German Cup 2011-12
Bundesliga 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20
German Cup 2015-16, 2018-19, 2019-20
Champions League 2019-20
UEFA Super Cup 2020
FIFA Club World Cup 2020
FIFA The best world player of the year 2020
Goals for Tottenham – 215 in 327 games
Overall club goals including loan statements – 231 in 392 matches
Goals for England – 33 in 52 games
Runner-up League Cup 2014-15
Champions League runner-up 2018-19
Nations League third place 2018-19
Premier League Golden Boot 2015-16, 2016-17
2018 World Cup Golden Boot
This English talent of a generation should win Premier League titles and conquer Europe, but the years slip by and as admirable as his loyalty to Spurs is, change is needed to win everything his heart desires.
As ITV pundit Roy Keane, someone who knows a thing or two about winning trophies, said on Sunday, “When you’re a top player, you want to win trophies. It’s been a big few months for Tottenham, the League Cup final (against Man City), can they get into the top four? Big question marks.
Will that affect him? He’s clearly under contract [until 2024]Tottenham will have a lot to say about it.
‘But when you are in his shoes and summer is coming, I think the man has to move on to really win the big prizes. He’s not going to do it at Tottenham. ‘
It is not a direct comparison to Lewandowski in this regard, as he was part of Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund side that won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 and reached the Champions League final the following year.
But since joining Bayern, the Pole has won six league titles, three German cups and the Champions League last season. He was named FIFA’s best player in the world last year and rightly so.
Dreams are really fulfilled and all at the age of 32.
Kane dives in to head England’s opening goal in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Albania in Tirana
That was England goal No. 33 for Kane, who is well on his way to breaking Wayne Rooney’s record
Lewandowski made the switch at the age of 26 when you would expect him to enter the traditional ‘prime’ of a player’s career. But his target win has continued on an upward trend even into his 30s and is showing no signs of leveling off.
Prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, when he was now the age of Kane (27), Lewandowski had scored 103 times in 187 appearances for Dortmund, 25 in 49 for Bayern, 41 in 82 for Lech Poznan and 33 in 73 for Poland. .
He has since scored an astounding 263 in 276 for Bayern and an equally outstanding 32 in 45 for his country.
The most prolific seasons of his club career have all come after he turned 27, with all competitions of 42, 43, 41, 40 and 55 since 2015. He has 42 and counts in the current campaign.
Lewandowski provides Poland’s second goal in their 3-0 qualifying win over Andorra
Poland’s attack will certainly be blunted by news that Lewandowski will miss at Wembley
Kane’s Tottenham return of 215 in 327 games, plus the 33 in 52 he has scored for England, has him on track to break club, country and Premier League records.
But you would expect such an expert goalscorer to crush even those numbers if he were in the lead for Manchester City, Real Madrid or Barcelona, teams more prepared for the attack than Mourinho’s often too cautious Spurs.
Goals are one aspect of this, but trophies and legacy are just as important. Kane could look at Lewandowski’s performance after the age of 27 and feel confident he could do the same.
Kane has always been wary when the topic of his Spurs future comes up. It was the same prior to Sunday’s 2-0 win in Albania.
“I think that’s a tough question to answer at the moment,” he said before the standard answer about focusing solely on England’s games and a strong end to the season with Spurs. “And then we’ll see where we’re going.”
Lewandowski was named FIFA’s best player of the year after an exceptional 2020
The Polish striker has added six Bundesliga titles with Bayern to the two he won with Dortmund
Kane wouldn’t want to upset anyone associated with the club who is proud to be one of them. But he knows that tough, career-defining decision is one he can’t put off too long as he steps into its splendor.
He praised Lewandowski when asked about the Polish striker last week. He compared him to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in maintaining the highest standards after 30.
‘I am 27 years old and still feel like I have many more years to go to learn and improve. When I look at players like [Lewandowski] it just gives me more motivation to do it. I certainly feel that I can. ‘
No doubt there were plenty at Dortmund who told Lewandowski that the grass wasn’t necessarily greener on their Bavarian rivals. After all, Klopp’s team was a title-winning force at the time and performed well in Europe.
But, as the following years have told us, his career was elevated to a whole new dimension of scoring and success as a result of making that leap.
Could Kane now follow the same path?