Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (l.) is in a league of his own, according to Germany great Miroslav Klose (r.). - © getty/ imago
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (l.) is in a league of his own, according to Germany great Miroslav Klose (r.). - © getty/ imago
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"Robert Lewandowski is 10 times better than I ever was!" - Germany's record goalscorer Miroslav Klose

Miroslav Klose retired in November 2016 as the Germany national team's record goalscorer and a FIFA World Cup winner, but the former Bayern Munich striker says he was nowhere near as good as the record champions' current leading man, Robert Lewandowski.

Despite a Bundesliga career that yielded 121 goals in 307 appearances in spells with Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern, Klose is arguably best known for his exploits on the international stage.

The Poland-born striker hit 71 goals in 137 games for Germany and is the record scorer at World Cup finals with 16 goals spread over four tournaments. He retired from international football after winning the 2014 World Cup, but continued to play at club level with Serie A side Lazio for a further two years.

Lewandowski had already surpassed Klose in the Bundesliga scoring charts when the Germany legend hung up his playing boots, and recently moved up to fourth in the all-time list after taking his 2018/19 tally to 11 goals in seven league matches - 213 in 297 overall.

"Robert Lewandowski plays a bit like I did, but he's 10 times better than I ever was," Klose is quoted as saying in Sport Bild. "He's the complete striker, uses both feet, is strong in the air and has a great shot on him."

Watch: Robert Lewandowski's first 200 Bundesliga goals

Klose didn't have the pleasure of playing in the same team as Lewandowski - unluckily for us, lucky for opposition defenders - but he did enjoy a terrific partnership with former Bayern and Germany teammate, Thomas Müller.

Klose was still at Bayern when Louis van Gaal handed home-grown youth product Müller his first-team debut during the 2009/10 season. The duo also played together at three World Cups, scoring 21 tournament goals between them, including six during Germany's triumphant run at Brazil 2014.

"Thomas Müller is the guy I enjoyed playing with the most," Klose recalled. "We had a fantastic understanding. We only had to look at other, and we knew what we were going to do. It really was a great partnership!"

Klose and Thomas Müller (l-r.) were among the scorers when Germany gave Brazil a 7-1 pasting in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals. - 2014 Getty Images

After retiring, Klose worked as part of Joachim Löw's coaching team with Germany, before being appointed Bayern U17s coach in summer 2018. The 41-year-old has won 28 of his 37 matches in charge, and took his charges to the U17 Bundesliga championship play-offs in his first season at the helm.

Bayern's U17s are currently second in the 2019/20 B-Junioren Bundesliga Süd, a point behind Hoffenheim.