Robert Lewandowski has spoken in glowing terms about his relationship with Jurgen Klopp, saying the now Liverpool boss was the “bad teacher” who propelled him on the path to greatness.
After finding life tough in his teenage years, Lewandowski began to score regularly for Znicz Pruszkow and Lech Poznan, which earned him a move to Borussia Dortmund in 2010.
Lewandowski’s start to life in the Bundesliga was not smooth sailing, as he was played in an unfamiliar No.10 position and found life tough in training under Klopp.
Things came to a head following a Champions League defeat to Marseille in September of 2011.
Lewandowski confronted Klopp and asked his manager what he wanted from him. Despite his German being patchy at that stage, the Poland international picked up on what was required of him and things blossomed to the extent that he won a second Bundesliga title before securing a move to Bayern Munich.
Revealing how his relationship with Klopp developed to the Players’ Tribune, Lewandowski said: “Jurgen was not only a father figure to me. 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.
“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”.