Barcelona are top of the table at the time of writing and although their season has been far from perfect, there is a strong recognition of the fact that Robert Lewandowski is as responsible as anyone for that. The Polish forward has scored 17 times in his 16 appearances for Barcelona and leads the Pichichi race by a remarkable six goals after just 12 games.
That goalscoring talent has been honed over an entire career and now at the age of 34, he is still capable of turning games with his eye for goal.
He was also recently given the Gerd Muller award at the Ballon d’Or ceremony for the best goalscorer for the previous season.
Following that prize, he spoke to L’Equipe about what it was that made him arguably the most lethal goalscorer in world football. He explained that not everyone can take on the responsibility and that in order to do so, he has tried to eliminate the fear of failure.
“I’m never afraid, I’m not perfect, but fear grips you and so I avoid it, just the idea of having it is a bad start.”
“It’s not a superpower, I don’t think you can be born with it, you can have a natural talent, something that makes you different, yes, but instinct is never acquired.”
In an attempt to break down what actually happens in his mind when he is in front of goal, Lewandowski made it sound as if his finishing is reflex more than anything else, honed to instantaneous reaction.
“There is no single thing that makes you develop the instinct. Goalscorers are different. There are not only easy moments and that is when you have to know how to do something unique and instinctive. It’s having eyes on the back of your head. I would say that my instinct is always alert, thinking better and faster. My decisions are more mature and considered and my movements are almost uncontrolled. I would say that I think without thinking and that it is my brain that instinctively gives this or that impulse to my legs because it has accumulated a lot of information throughout my career.”
That in itself is the result of training and preparation though.
“I also visualize things in advance, which conditions my brain to work and allows me to take a small step forward and improves my reaction time.”