The first place to start is with the iPad and a radiant smile. Robert Lewandowski sits in a studio on the Bayern Munich training ground when asked to go back in time with the help of a two-minute video clip.
It is not something that Europe’s first No. 9 expected, but it soon comes to life.
The footage, from April 2013, is about a one-man war against Real Madrid for Borussia Dortmund, when he scored four goals in a semi-final of the Champions League.
Robert Lewandowski reflected on his Champions League hero deeds against Real Madrid in 2013
It was a famous night for him, as he scored four to help Borussia Dortmund win the first leg
‘Ah!’ he says, eyes on the screen. “I am very proud of this game! If you do such a thing, you must be very proud.
“I remember feeling so good, so strong. The third goal (a stunning finish after changing his feet) is my favorite. I just wanted to do what I am best at. To score.’
He has done that all his life. Given the exploits of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it may not be appreciated what a Lewandowski machine has been during their era. His career record is currently at 408 and Chelsea, next week in the Champions League last 16, are firmly in his sights.
Lewandowski is very modest superstar and the hour we spend together is informative to the point of training. Sportsmail spent the first time with the pole three years ago and the impression he made that day is further strengthened here.
When players reach their level of fame and admiration, this can distort their characters and cause them to be surrounded by entourages, but Lewandowski – who puts his remarkable athletic physique on eating steak for breakfast and says no to cake – is refreshing down to earth.
He only comes for our meeting and although he speaks English fluently, he feels apologized for the quality of his language. He clearly also has a dry sense of humor, as he says at a certain point with a significant wink: “maybe it will improve if I come to the Premier League!”
Since then, Lewandowski has established himself as one of Europe’s most deadly attackers
He reflects on opportunities earlier in his career to leave Germany for the Premier League
Lewandowski has had chances to go to England, but a move now seems less likely
If only. Lewandowski is 32 next birthday; the gray spots that his pitch black hair are starting to spray, coupled with the fact that he has settled happily in Bavaria with his wife, Anna, and baby daughter, Klara, suggest that a move to England will never come true.
However, it was not the intention to try. There was a meeting with Sam Allardyce in April 2010, when the then Lech Poznan was almost referred to Blackburn Rovers, but two years later it was called that the seriousness of the intention of Manchester United was apparent.
“It’s hard to tell when it was time to move there, because something would happen every year,” says Lewandowski. “I remember it (closest to it). Sir Alex Ferguson called. Could I understand him? Yes! It wasn’t too bad!
“I spoke to him after two years in Dortmund. At the time, I was really thinking of moving to Manchester United. It was something great for a young player. That was a special day for me. I then spoke with Dortmund. They said “no” – and that was that. “
Sir Alex Ferguson called Lewandowski to let him trade Dortmund for Manchester United
In Dortmund, Lewandowski had a close relationship with Jurgen Klopp, the current Liverpool boss
Ferguson had noted that Lewandowski had scored 30 goals to help Dortmund maintain the Bundesliga, the young man being looked after by Jurgen Klopp. They now stay in touch and Lewandowski plans to get his old boss something if and when Liverpool wins the Premier League.
It would, you think, be the least he could do. There are more smiles when he tells in detail how he eventually flattered Klopp when he embraced the challenge of fulfilling his talent; training became expensive for the manager when the penny fell on what Lewandowski could achieve.
“We bet that if I score 10 goals, Jurgen will give me 50 euros,” he says. ‘I remember the first training sessions, I score three or four. After five, six, seven sessions I score seven or eight. After three months? I score more than 10 in every training session.
“After a few weeks, Jurgen said,” Not anymore! It is too much for me. I don’t want to pay you anymore! “That was part of my mentality to focus on training sessions. That was very useful for me. And good in a different way! Before I met Jurgen, I had a lot of problems with my body language.
“He sometimes told me he didn’t know if I was angry or happy. It didn’t matter what happened, my body language was the same. Jurgen said: “Sometimes you have to be angry! Sometimes your actions have to be more expressive!” I had to change. That was under Jurgen. “
The forward Poland also mentions Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as a key figure in his career
After the first year with Guardiola, the seasonal results of Lewandowski have read 42, 43, 41 and 40
The bond they have is clear, but so does the respect for Pep Guardiola. If Klopp helped make Lewandowski a murderer, the Manchester City manager showed him how to manage the murder in the most elegant – but never-ending – way.
The first year that Lewandowski worked with Guardiola, he scored 25 times. Since then, his 42, 43, 41, 40 and he is already 36 for this campaign. It is erratic consistency, perhaps not fully appreciated, but it shows why comparisons with Gerd Muller are not out of place.
“Everyone can learn from Pep,” he says. ‘Not only the tactics, but also how you can be a better player on the field and how you can be clearer with situations, to know what is happening – where you have to go, where you have to run. They are different, but if you made a mix of both, that would be perfect. “
Lewandowski continues to strive for perfection. His wife is a nutritionist, but her influence goes beyond food; she has introduced him to professors who have given him exercises to train his mind, all that will give him a fractional advantage in the heat of the moment.
These are the difference that separates large and good. Bayern will one day have to think about replacing a man who signed a long-term contract last summer, but he is making every effort to ensure that this is a long way off.
He focuses as much on his mental sharpness as he is physically ready to succeed
His wife Anna (right), who is a nutritionist, has a huge impact keeping him at the highest level
“What you do in your preparations is so important,” he says. ‘Football now, everyone knows a lot about your tactics, how you move with and without the ball.
‘That’s why you should try to find something that can help you. So you train your brain to be focused, like at school.
‘I do exercises on a computer. I focus. I don’t look at my phone to see what’s going on.
‘The mental focus must be at a high level. The brain receives information (from what you do for a game) that something important is coming. It doesn’t matter what I do. I want to get better. “
Remarkably, Lewandowski never won the Champions League – but there is still time for him
The longer you are with him, the more remarkable it is that the whirlwind that Real Madrid blew away seven years ago did not win the biggest prize in club football.
But there is still time – and Chelsea will discover that he is a man on a mission.
“I am the player who will try,” he says, while things end. ‘I have never been the player who is afraid of anything: not from myself or from the team. I want to be the player who can do something special. “