Robert Lewandowski is now the second all-time top scorer in the Bundesliga, and has scored as many goals in a single season as the legendary Gerd Müller. - © DFL
Robert Lewandowski is now the second all-time top scorer in the Bundesliga, and has scored as many goals in a single season as the legendary Gerd Müller. - © DFL

Robert Lewandowski and the top 5 Bundesliga strikers of all time

With Robert Lewandowski equalling Gerd Müller's 49-year-old Bundesliga goalscoring record, and becoming only the second player in history to score 40 goals in Germany's top-flight, ranks the top five strikers ever to have graced the Bundesliga stage.

1) Robert Lewandowski

Clubs: Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich
Goals: 276
Games: 349
Torjägerkanone wins: 5 (soon to be six)
League wins: 9 (two with Dortmund, seven with Bayern)

There can hardly be enough superlatives to describe the 32-year-old's achievements both for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, with Lewandowski deserving of his status as arguably the greatest striker ever to have played in the Bundesliga. Matching Müller's seemingly incomparable haul just places the cherry atop a career which - with still some years in it - has already exceeded that of any other player to have graced the Bundesliga stage, apart from the legend whose mantle he is ready to take.

While Lewandowski may still trail Müller in terms of total goals - 276 to 365 - he has played 78 fewer games and could yet go on to match or even beat the German's record-breaking return. However, the Pole can already go down as the record foreign-born goalscorer, and unlike Müller, he has enjoyed both individual and team success with two clubs.

Watch: All 40 of Lewandowski's goals in 2020/21

Having landed in Germany from Lech Poznan in the summer of 2010, Lewandowski chipped in with eight goals as part of an exciting young Dortmund squad that won the Bundesliga under Jürgen Klopp in 2010/11. The Pole was more prominent with 22 goals the following year as Dortmund defended their title, and he also helped BVB finish as runners-up to Bayern in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final after getting 10 goals along the way in that competition. The fast-improving forward was the leading Bundesliga scorer for the first time in his final year at Dortmund before he moved to Bavaria in the summer of 2014.

Poland's all-time leading scorer topped the charts in the German top flight with Bayern in 2015/16, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 - and he is virtually certain to do so again in 2020/21 - and he has scored 30 goals or more in four different seasons. Those goals have come with his right foot, his left foot and with his head, including an almost flawless conversion rate from penalties. Jürgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthäus both recently described him as a complete player and it's hard to argue with that assessment.

2) Gerd Müller

Clubs: Bayern Munich
Goals: 365
Games: 427
Torjägerkanone wins: 7 (three shared)
League wins: 4

Müller still leads Lewandowski in total goals scored and also in terms of Torjägerkanone titles, although three of those were ex aequo. The "Nation's Bomber" was not just a goal machine in the Bundesliga, though. He won the European Cup with Bayern three times between 1974 and 1976, and was a key part of the West Germany side that were European champions in 1972 and world champions in1974.

He scored three times in two of those European Cup finals, netted twice in the European Championship decider and got the winner against the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup final, making decisive contributions almost every time he pulled on a jersey for club and country. Indeed, Müller was the master of a golden era for both Bayern and Germany, his name synonymous with goals, glory and silverware.

Gerd Müller won the Torjägerkanone seven times in an unrivalled career in terms of goals scored. - imago

With 30 or more goals in five seasons, Müller found the back of the net an astonishing 67 times in the 1972/73 campaign, including 12 in six European Cup outings and a record of over a goal per game in each competition he participated in. Taking the 1972 calendar year, his record was even better, with 85 goals in 60 appearances, at an average of 1.42 per game. Considering his career as a whole, including his early days in the lower leagues with his home-town club TSV 1861 Nördlingen and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, with whom he brought his illustrious career to a conclusion in 1981, Müller scored an unparalleled 1455 goals in 1204 games, including 40 in that previously record-breaking 1971/72 season.

Considering he missed 12 Bundesliga penalties - more than any other player - that record could have been even greater, as he ultimately fell just two goals shy of 400 for Bayern in all competitions, but few will deny that Müller is and remains the bar by which all strikers are measured.

3) Claudio Pizarro

Clubs: Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich, Cologne
Goals: 197
Games: 490
Torjägerkanone wins: 0
League wins: 6

While few would have predicted that Müller's single-season record of 40 Bundesliga goals would ever be matched, not many would have bet on Claudio Pizarro losing his record as the Bundesliga's most prolific goalscorer so soon. The Peruvian arrived in Germany back in 1999, scoring his first Bundesliga goal for Werder Bremen in only his second appearance, in a 5-0 win over Kaiserslautern. From that day until becoming the oldest goalscorer in the Bundesliga's history - at the age of 40 years and 227 days - Pizarro set an extraordinary record of scoring at least one goal in 21 consecutive calendar years.

He did that for four clubs, enjoying success with Bremen - for whom he remains the record goalscorer - and Bayern - where he won six Bundesliga titles, five DFB Cups and a UEFA Champions League, including being part of their historic first-ever treble-winning team - while scoring a Bundesliga goal with a third club, Cologne, during a career which also included a spell in England's Premier League with Chelsea.

During his time with The Blues, Pizarro reached his first Champions League final, while he also steered in five goals to help Bremen to the final of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup. Pizarro delivered the goods for several teams, adapting to different clubs and cultures and displaying a longevity which saw him face more opponents in the Bundesliga - 38 - than anybody else, and helped him to plunder 197 Bundesliga goals.

Before he brought his career to a close, Pizarro received an honour from the German Football League (DFL) for outstanding achievements in the game, becoming the first footballer to earn such recognition while still actively involved in the game.

4) Jupp Heynckes

Clubs: Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hannover
Goals: 220
Games: 369
Torjägerkanone wins: 2 (one shared with Müller)
League wins: 4

While many will remember Jupp Heynckes as the man who led Bayern Munich to an historic Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League treble as coach back in 2013, he earned most of his footballing stripes during a playing career which saw him net 220 goals in 369 games as the fourth most prolific goalscorer in Bundesliga history – not bad for a man who liked to avoid the limelight.

Keeping his name out of the headlines was not easy in the 1970s, when Heynckes defined the most successful era of his hometown club Borussia Mönchengladbach, which included four Bundesliga titles, one DFB Cup and the UEFA Cup. Throw in the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup, and Heynckes also swept the board with Germany before hanging up his boots and embarking on an equally successful coaching career, starting with UEFA Cup glory as assistant to Udo Lattek at Gladbach and concluding with the fourth Bundesliga title of his coaching career - 29 years after his first - and two more records: the most wins (518) and appearances (1038) in the Bundesliga, counting his entire career in the game.

Jupp Heynckes enjoyed success as a player and a coach. - Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON via images/Sven Simon

Yet it is his goalscoring exploits which warrant more attention, with his 195 goals for Gladbach setting a club record which may never be beaten. Thirty and 27 of those earned him the Torjägerkanone in 1974 and 1975 respectively, while he was the fourth-highest goalscorer in the history of the UEFA Cup, with 23 - all coming in just three campaigns, with 12 in 1973 and 10 in 1975 earning him the golden boot in that competition twice.

5) Klaus Fischer

Clubs: 1860 Munich, Schalke, Cologne, Bochum
Goals: 268
Games: 535
Torjägerkanone wins: 1
League wins: 0

The Bundesliga's top goalscorer in 1975/76 did not go by the name of Heynckes or Müller, but rather Klaus Fischer. His 29 goals for Schalke contributed to a grand total of 268 Bundesliga goals, a figure bettered only by Müller and Lewandowski, which included some of the most spectacular strikes in the history of the game.

Indeed, Fischer did not like to do things the easy way and made overhead kicks his speciality. In November 1977, his goal for Germany against Switzerland was named by viewers of Germany's ARD television as the goal of the year. Later, it earned recognition as goal of the decade and, ultimately, goal of the century, but it was not a one-hit wonder.

Klaus Fischer knew the way to goal better than many, even if it meant resorting to spectacular methods. - imago sportfotodienst

In 1982, a similarly acrobatic effort in the semi-final of the World Cup was voted goal of the season, while he regularly featured in goal of the month shortlists - winning his first in September 1975 and his sixth and last, 28 years later, a sweet volley for 1860 Munich's all-stars at the ripe old age of 54 in 2003. All said, Fischer scored four overhead kicks, earning him the nickname "Mr Overhead Kick"

In late 2020, Fischer's name was added to the Hall of Fame of German football, while he continues to teach the fine art of goalscoring - and overhead kicks - at a football academy he launched in 1997.