Cast your minds back to the 2009/2010 season, when Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers side were sitting mid-table and were relying on the creative skills of Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn. The likes of Jason Roberts and Franco Di Santo were not being clinical enough in front of goal and Allardyce was crying out for someone to convert the chances that his midfield were producing.
Head of Recruitment at the time for the Lancashire club Martyn Glover had reportedly scouted out a promising Polish forward at the time, who had scored 21 goals in 34 appearances for Lech Poznan and Glover envisioned that this striker could perhaps be as good as the man who fired Rovers to the Premier League title in 1995, Alan Shearer.
Glover, who is now Head of Recruitment at Southampton and has been since 2019, said:
“We had seen a lot of Robert Levandowksi and we knew we were dealing with a top class striker.”
Discussions with the club president went as planned and we had outlined a proposal for him to join Rovers.
However, the chairman (John Williams) was worried that Poland was not famous for producing prolific goal scorers and there was also questions surrounding the fee, which was £3 million possibly rising to £4 million.
Indeed, Rovers hesitation surrounding the player proved costly as the player had a pal at the Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund and before the Premier League side could do anything Dortmund snapped him up for the same fee.
“He’s certainly close to the top of the list of the ones that got away!”
Allardyce subsequently bought Croatian Nikola Kalinic instead for a reported £6 million.
The prolific Polish International striker certainly proved that he was indeed the one that got away. Having joined Dortmund 2010, under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp he became the complete striker. He immediately endeared himself to the Dortmund fans by scoring his first goal for the club against fierce rivals Schalke in the Revierderby.
Lewandowkski spent four seasons at die Schwarzgelben scoring an impressive 103 goals in 187 appearances. He helped his team to the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Bundesliga titles, plus the 2012 DFB-Pokal Cup. While at the same time also playing a key role in Dortmund’s run to the 2013 Champions League final, which they subsequently lost to Bayern Munich.
The highlight of that memorable 2012-13 Champions League campaign was undoubtedly his four goals against Real Madrid in the semi-final.
The Pole broke Dortmund fans hearts, however, by agreeing to move to their fierce rivals, Bayern Munich, in 2014 on a five-year deal. At Bayern he got to work with the likes of Pep Guardiola and won title after title.
There were periods, however, where it was not plane sailing but it all came to together last season with manager Hans Flick. League crown thanks to a 1-0 win over French Champions Paris Saint Germain.
The incredible year for Lewandowski was capped off by winning the Best FIFA award for men’s player of the year and finished first in the Guardian’s 100 best male footballers. The past season saw Lewandowski score 55 goals in just 47 games.
Under the guidance of Flick, Lewandowski has clearly become more of a team player. His team mate Thomas Muller added:
“It has even gone so far that he can almost enjoy an assist now.”
Jacek Grembocki, the coach of the Pole’s first ever-professional team Znicz Pruszkow, meanwhile, said:
“Players like Lewandowski only think about one thing: success, success and success. Now he plays not only for Poland, but for Bayern too. And he is a legend up there with Messi and Ronaldo.
“He is the best player in the history of Polish football.”