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Robert Lewandowski names the Arsenal player who was his idol

Robert Lewandowski

The 30-year-old was left in awe by the France World Cup winner’s ability to score from any situation while watching the Premier League from Poland as a youngster.

Lewandowski has gone on to become one of Europe’s most prolific strikers, scoring 195 Bundesliga goals for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

"Growing up my dream was to play in the big stadiums with 80,000 fans, but when I was young in Poland, we didn't have any top players,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I knew I couldn't just think about my country - I had to think bigger. I looked at the best player in the world and thought, 'Why can a player from Poland not be one of the best in the world?'

"When I was six, I remember Roberto Baggio at the 1994 World Cup. When I was between 10 and 14, Alessandro Del Piero was the best player for me. Then my idol was Thierry Henry. He was amazing - it wasn't just how he scored the goals but what he did for the team.

"When he was at Arsenal, I remember how easily he scored goals from different situations. He could score from the left side into the far corner with his right foot. It was so easy for him - I wanted to score a lot of goals too and I could learn from him.

"I wanted to be the same player like that, but to be Robert Lewandowski. I could take some aspects from one or two of the players and be like my idol.

“I remember when I met Henry, I was like, 'Wow, I met my childhood idol'. Now he wants my jersey and I think, 'Amazing'. I believe that dreams come true."

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The Poland international is set to lead the line when Bayern face Liverpool at the Allianz Arena in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie next Wednesday.

He will come up against a familiar face in his former Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp, and Lewandowski recalled how tough his sessions were under the German during their time working together.

"The first two years at Borussia Dortmund, my finishing was not like it is now,” he said.

“After every single training session I stayed on the pitch and practised with my left foot, my right foot, and being systematic. Repeating the movements was very important.

"It didn't matter what I did with the team, I knew I had to stay after training to do things for myself. Sometimes I did it without a goalkeeper, who might have been tired or not have time for me, because I would stay on for two extra hours.

"I remember the first six months at Dortmund, the training was very hard under Jurgen Klopp. I was very young and wanted to show everyone I could do it 110% in every training session.

"After two or three months, I was very tired and couldn't show all my skills. It was too much for me and I needed three months' lighter training to get back to form.

"When I think about it now, I learned a lot. After the first few months my body was ready to work harder. Around November I scored a lot of goals and my team-mates said 'Robert is back', and I knew then I could show all my skills."

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.