Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski may strike fear into the hearts of defenders across the continent, but he has not forgotten the man who helped thrust him to global stardom as a wide-eyed young hopeful: former Borussia Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp.
In his debut season in Germany he scored eight times in 33 Bundesliga outings – most of which came as a substitute in the closing stages of matches – en route to winning the 2010/11 Bundesliga title, but readily admits to difficulties adapting to his new surroundings.
“I joined Dortmund as a young player and initially it wasn’t easy,” he told Polish publication Prawda Futbolu. “Obviously Jürgen wasn’t my dad, but in different ways he sort of adopted that role. He was one of the main factors behind my development and he opened the door to the big wide world of football for me.”
Watch: All of Lewandowski’s goals in 2019/20 so far
The following season proved to be Klopp’s last in Dortmund, and he took charge at Liverpool in October 2015.
“He’s got charisma and knows how to create the right atmosphere in a team,” Lewandowski continued. “On top of that, he’s able to find the right balance between fun and more serious criticism. He’s a coach you’d run through fire for.”
In total Lewandowski registered 102 goals and 42 assists in 186 competitive games under Klopp, and together they also won a domestic double in 2012, the DFL Supercup in 2013 and 2014, as well as reaching the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final.
Both student and master have hit new heights in the intervening years. Lewandowski has won the Bundesliga every season since his switch to the Allianz Arena, finished as top scorer three times and become the league’s all-time top-scoring foreign-born player with over 221 goals.
Klopp, meanwhile, conquered Europe with Liverpool last term, lifting the 2018/19 Champions League crown and appears to be on course to guide the Reds to a maiden English Premier League success, with his side currently 13 points clear at the top of the standings.