Lewandowski about friendship

Things could not be better really. However, life, as always, is not quite that simple.

“There have been many attempts of dishonesty,” he says. “Even fake charity proposals. The number of strange offers is absolutely astonishing and, because of that, I have become distrusting of people. No one becomes my friend in one day. I have many doubts and my first thought these days, sadly, is: ‘This person wants something from me.’ “But even if I weren’t famous, it wouldn’t be that easy to get close to me. I have my old friends and I keep them very close to myself. I know who I can trust. I don’t change my friends like socks. When there is someone I think I may like, I can open the door, but I do it very slowly. Trust has to be there before I open my heart.”

His private and professional life connect because of the friends who work for him. They knew him long before he became the Robert Lewandowski and he is 100% sure he can trust them. Most of them he has known since his childhood. Tomasz Zawislak is his manager, Kamil Gorzelnik his lawyer, and he even has a bodyguard, Marcin Kulczyk. How many situations has he been through that have required a bodyguard? “Quite a lot of them. Me and Marcin have a feeling for when he should go with me somewhere. It is usually an official event, where it has been known for a long time that I will attend. Fans will be waiting and there will be a lot of photographers pushing toward me. “It is not about separating myself from people, but having a situation under control. There were times when I just lost focus for a second and suddenly I was under a lot of pressure and couldn’t get away.”

Those situations can be difficult, with some people capable of being rude or aggressive, especially fans of other teams.

“Especially when they are under the influence of alcohol,” he says. “There is aggression, people giving me the finger, swearing at me, reminding me of bad games, telling me how I should play or live my life. I have had confrontations like this in restaurants, for example, but if it gets too heated, Marcin reacts.”

That trick, however, does not work all the time. 

The Pole, after all, is  the Bundesliga’s highest earner and the league’s star name. Deep down, however, the money and the fame is not that important to him.

A group of advisers runs his businesses, but it is always Lewandowski who has the final say. There have been times when important documents have needed signing and a helicopter has landed at the national team training camp in Arlamow, just so Lewandowski can close a deal.

“I can afford anything,” he admits. “But I’m in a moment where I appreciate a different capital: love and happiness. I have a beautiful family. My daughter just turned one. She made me even more stabilised. I can say I’m a fulfilled person in life but in terms of football I’m still hungry. I think it is very important to be happy in life and a lot of people have the opposite. A lot of money doesn’t guarantee happiness and it can actually make you lonely, without support and motivation. There are intangible things that make you strong.”

This World Cup will be his first but, he says, not necessarily his last. He will be 30 in August but says that his best moments are still in front of him. “I have a plan to play at the top level at least until I’m 35,” he says. “I feel I’m just starting the best period for a striker. I’m mature and have a lot of experience. If I’m healthy, I will play in Europe as long as possible – and then move on. We will see.”

Improving is an obsession for Lewandowski. He always identifies what he can do better and is often the last one to leave the Bayern training pitch. It could be free-kicks or penalties or his left foot. “You do it because you have to repeat everything time and time again,” he says. “Then I add things. At the moment I am trying to improve my long-distance shooting with my left foot. I have to reach a point with that where my head doesn’t have to think – I just react – and that helps me to make quick decisions. It’s called the automatics. To do something because you just know how to do it. There is no wasting time on thinking. In football you don’t learn everything at the same time. You have to work on yourself all the time.”
We look out over the Olympiastadion again. Soon Lewandowski will attempt to write his own World Cup story when Poland play Senegal in their first group match on Tuesday. Going back to the question of whether Poland can emulate the 1974 team, he says: “Relax, let’s not get expectations up too high. To repeat what they did would be a dream come true and I want to rewrite history. I want to have my own good memories. “It has cost me a lot to be where I am and I didn’t get anything for free. I didn’t do too much talking either, I prefer to act. Maybe, as a team, we can do something special in Russia.”