Warsaw, Poland – Ahead of the opening game of Poland against Senegal later today, Robert Lewandowski assured FIFA.com that he and his teammates are prepared to live up to the “high” expectations despite the pressure.
Interviewed by Poland’s official FIFA correspondent in Russia Piotr Koźmiński, Lewandowski said that “Poland is a nation that always believes, always keeps fingers crossed for the players, but at the same time expects a lot”.
In a group H composed of Senegal, Colombia and Japan, the white and red eagles are indeed expected to fare well.
After becoming the first player to score 16 goals in a major European international qualifying campaign, the 29-year-old Bayern Munich striker playing at his first World Cup believes he has “a task to fulfill”.
Assuring that he is “less tired” than before the Euro in France two years ago, when Poland reached the quarter finals before losing on penalties to eventual winners Portugal, he now carries the hopes of a nation on “the biggest stage”.
Expecting to be “tightly marked” like he was in France, Lewandowski nevertheless says that helping his teammates is more important to him that scoring goals and winning this World Cup’s Golden Boot, 44 years after Lato. At the 1974 World Cup in Germany, Poland’s Grzegorz Lato won the Golden Boot, scoring 7 goals in 7 games and helping the white and red eagles finish third by beating world-champions Brazil 1-0.
Asked about his first World Cup memories, Lewandowski answered 1998, with “such great teams” as France and Brazil. He also admitted skipping school in 2002 to watch Poland play.
Lewandowski started his career at MKS Warsaw. After being top scorer in the third and second divisions of Polish football with Znicz Pruszków, he joined Lech Poznań, helping them win the Ekstraklasa in 2010 by scoring 18 goals in 28 games. After two prolific seasons in Poland’s top league, he eventually joined Borussia Dortmund where he won two consecutive Bundesliga titles and reached the 2013 Champions League final. In 2014, he joined rivals Bayern Munich with whom he won each of his four Bundesliga campaigns.
Amongst his many achievements, the Polish Player of the Year for the 7th consecutive time scored five goals against VfL Wolfsburg in nine minutes – the fastest in any major European league since records have been kept!
Let’s hope he can emulate that this summer, starting this afternoon against Senegal!