Robert Lewandowski and Claudio Pizarro may be good friends following their time together at the Allianz Arena, but a rivalry is now ensuing after the Bayern Munich sharpshooter pulled ahead of the Werder Bremen veteran as the most prolific foreign goalscorer in Bundesliga history.
The Poland captain has 17 league goals so far this term, and has averaged 30 in the Bundesliga over the last three seasons.
Pizarro - 10 years Lewandowski's senior - was a role model for his younger colleague during their season together at Bayern in 2014/15 and taught him invaluable tricks of the trade.
"[Pizarro] was strong, he was always calm, his technique was incredible too," enthused Lewandowski. "He always knew exactly what he wanted to do with the ball and that's what I learned from him. He knew what I had to do with the ball, I have no problem saying that a lot of what I know, I learned by looking at him.”
In terms of their goals-to-minutes ratio, the pupil has already long since left the master in his wake. Lewandowski finds the net every 113 minutes on average in the Bundesliga, putting him behind only the legendary Gerd Müller in that regard for players with at least 30 league outings to their name. Pizarro, who has scored three times in the 2018/19 league season, has averaged a goal every 156 minutes since first joining Bremen in 1999.
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Having fallen behind, Pizarro is not going to give up his title without a fight. "I want to score a few more goals so that he has a hard time," he told Deutsche Welle. "I want to keep the record."
He looks set to be given the opportunity to do just that, given Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt's fondness for his evergreen forward: "Whenever he comes on, the effect he has is so noticeable on so many levels that it's not something I want to do without."
If Pizarro does end up being overtaken, he can at least take consolation in the fact that he has already set two more Bundesliga records of his own in 2019, becoming the first player ever to score at least once in 21 consecutive years in Germany's top flight.
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Not only that, he leapfrogged Miroslav Votava (40 years, three months and 30 days) - who incidentally also played for Bremen - as the oldest player ever to score in the Bundesliga.
Both of those records are at least safe from Lewandowski for a decade, but even with his legacy already assured, Pizarro could yet go in search of more: "I think this will be my last season, but I always leave the door open a little bit. We'll see how I feel."
With Lewandowski now ahead, the ball is back in the Bremen old timer's court.
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