By Kartikeya Bhattacharyya
New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS): On Monday night, Robert Lewandowski was awarded 'The Best FIFA Men's Player of 2021' for a second year in a row ahead of second-placed Lionel Messi and third-placed Mohamed Salah.
The Best FIFA Football Awards are voted on by the coaches of national teams, the captains of said teams, media representatives as well as the fans and are the governing body's answer to the esteemed Ballon d'Or, an award which has controversially snubbed Lewandowski despite his excellent form over the last few years.
The reason why Bayern's hitman won the prize is very simple: A large number of goals, with the Pole already netting an impressive 37 in 30 games of the 2021/22 season while also impressing last season where he scored 41 goals in Bundesliga games alone thus shattering Gerd Muller's nearly 50-year-old record of most goals in the competition in a single season.
The secret behind Lewandowski's efficiency in front of goal is his well-rounded skillset. He is commonly referred to as a complete striker, as not only is he capable of scoring goals in all sorts of situations but he is also adept at creating opportunities for others.
Lewandowski possesses many gifts that are uncommon for a striker to have all at once, combining elite movement in the box with superb aerial ability and a feather-like first touch that helps him link up with his team-mates. Despite his whopping goal tally, he's also quite selfless as he works hard off the ball to press the opposition and frequently turns provider for his team-mates.
By combining all these traits as well as an ability to come up with spontaneous magic, such as a marvellous bicycle-kick goal against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League this season, you get a player who's virtually impossible to thwart for 90 minutes.
However, not all of Lewandowski's achievements are down to his individual brilliance, after all. Football is a team sport and there is perhaps no better team-mate for the striker than Bayern's chief creator Thomas Muller. The duo is the perfect match for each other as while Lewandowski's best skill is scoring, Muller's best skill is providing assists. He holds the record for most assists provided in a single Bundesliga season at 21, a record Muller himself looks set to break this season having already accumulated 16 assists in 19 games.
Lewandowski's other big support is someone who is not a footballer. His wife, Anna, is a qualified nutritionist credited for being the reason behind her husband's fitness. She is an accomplished athlete in her own right with a black belt in karate and provides technical analysis for Lewandowski's game through the lens of an athlete.
Though Lewandowski is 33, an age by which most footballers slow down, the Pole seems to be going from strength to strength. If he continues his sensational form, it would be hard to bet against Lewandowski finally winning the Ballon d'Or that has eluded him so far.