“I was desperate to make my mark, and Jurgen wanted to challenge me.”
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has revealed how a training ground bet with former manager Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund helped him become one of the world’s best strikers.
Lewandowski helped his current side Bayern to a treble in 2020 and netted 55 goals over the calendar year as he won FIFA’s The Best award in recognition of his goalscoring exploits.
However, he didn’t always score in the same vein as he does now. Lewandowski arrived at Dortmund aged 21 in 2010 and struggled in front of goal.
However, things started to improve for Lewandowski after manager Klopp laid down a mini-bet to the youngster.
“When I arrived I could barely speak a word of German,” he revealed to The Players Tribune.
“I knew Danke. Thank you. I knew scheisse. 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! O.K.! That’s enough. You’re ready now’.”
Lewandowski’s first season with Dortmund saw him score just nine goals in 43 appearances. However, the Polish captain recovered from a poor start to bag 103 goals in 187 games for the club winning two league titles and reaching the 2013 Champions League final.
Klopp being a “bad teacher”.
Lewandowski also heaped praise on Klopp, recalling the amicable relationship with his former coach and revealed how the current Liverpool boss was the “bad teacher” who propelled him on the path to greatness.
“Jurgen was not only a father figure to me,” he revealed.
“As a coach, he was like the “bad” teacher. And I mean that in the best sense of the word.
“Let me explain. Think back to you when you were in school. Which teacher do you remember the most? Not the one who made life easy for you and never expected anything from you.
“No, no, no. You remember the bad teacher, the one who was strict with you. The one who put pressure on you and did everything to get the best out of you. That’s the teacher who made you better, right? And Jurgen was like that.
“He was not content to let you be a B student, you know? Jurgen wanted A+ students. He didn’t want it for him. He wanted it for you.
“He taught me so much. When I arrived at Dortmund, I wanted to do everything quickly: strong pass, one-touch only. Jurgen showed me to calm down – to take two touches if necessary.
Robert Lewandowski is the first player to score 20+ league goals in Europe's top five leagues this season.
You just can't stop him from scoring. ? pic.twitter.com/fYltFoI0wC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 8, 2021
“It was totally against my nature, but soon I was scoring more goals.
“When I had that down, he challenged me to speed it up again. One-touch. BANG. Goal. He slowed me down to speed me up. It sounds simple, but it was genius, really.”