- Robert Lewandowski broke records en route to Russia 2018
- Guardiola and Klopp highlight the Poland star's skill and professionalism
- Team-mates, rivals & pundits hail "the complete No9"
Every team at the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ will have its key players. Some of these stars do, though, shine a little more brightly than others, with Poland's Robert Lewandowski a prime example.
The Bayern Munich striker is his country's captain, talisman and, as of October last year, its all-time leading scorer. He achieved this record by netting 16 times in Russia 2018 qualifying, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo's European record and edging out the Portugal skipper to finish as the competition's top scorer.
Lewandowski, who was responsible for 64 per cent of Poland's goals in that 2018 campaign, had also been the continent's leading marksman in the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers. No wonder, then, that the Poles' coach, Adam Nawalka, describes the Bayern star as "incredibly important for us".
But what makes Lewandowski such a consistently prolific goalscorer? And where does he rank among the world's best in his position? FIFA.com looks at what the experts have to say about what sets Poland's captain apart.
"I always said he was a special player. He’s like [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic. They score goals out of nothing. That’s his best quality. He’s also a very mentally strong guy. He has no arrogance. He’s a great person and a true team player."
Leo Beenhakker, who gave Lewandowski his Poland debut
"He has all the skills you want from a striker, particularly physical strength and great finishing. But he also has the technique of a gifted midfield player. When he gets the ball in the middle of the pitch and distributes it to the wing, it's like watching a playmaker. The ball is his friend."
Jurgen Klopp, who signed Lewandowski for Borussia Dortmund
"He is the most professional player I have ever met. In his head, he thinks about the right food, sleep and training 24 hours a day. He is always there, never injured, because he focuses on these things."
Pep Guardiola, who coached Lewandowski at Bayern Munich
"He's the best striker in the world. Robert is developing all the time, he makes progress continuously and I don't think there's anyone that could stop him. He's incredibly important for us - he’s like the steam-powered locomotive of the team.”
Adam Nawalka, Poland coach
"He can score in every situation. That is his one big quality."
Jupp Heynckes, Bayern Munich coach
"He doesn't just hang about up front and score, he joins in the team play. He's a terrific footballer and it's a pleasure playing alongside him."
Arjen Robben, Bayern team-mate
"Lewandowski is the best striker in the world. He really is unbelievable. He doesn't only score a lot of goals, but always helps the team defensively as well."
Javi Martinez, Bayern team-mate
"He can hold on to the ball and build play, he can dribble, he can score goals from anywhere. He is fast, strong in the air. For me, he is the best striker in the world at the moment. He is more complete than I am."
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabon and Arsenal striker, and former Dortmund team-mate
"Lewandowski is the best striker there is. I try to learn a lot by watching him. I don't miss a match when he's playing, and I try to learn from his movements."
Alvaro Morata, Spain and Chelsea striker
"Lewandowski is the most complete No9 in the world. He's quick. He has good technique and movement. He's a good header of the ball. He can score with his left foot and right foot. He takes free-kicks, he takes penalties and he's very good at those too. He's eager, he works hard, he doesn't just wait for the ball in the box. I like his body language and personality on the field. Most important of all, you can trust him. Every year he scored between 25 and 30 goals in the Bundesliga. He has no ups and downs like you might see with some other No9s. And his goals help Poland reach major tournaments."
"Robert Lewandowski is just an exceptional player. He hardly has any weaknesses. He just holds on to the ball like no one else."
"Robert is in the same category as Gerd Muller."
"He is the whole package. He is as good with his left and right as anybody else and, while not a specialist in the air, he still gets plenty of headed goals. He has everything.”