Footballer Robert Lewandowski — who once scored 5 goals in 9 minutes — explains why success is about more than just talent

Footballer Robert Lewandowski — who once scored 5 goals in 9 minutes —  explains why success is about more than just talent
Business Insider
  • Robert Lewandowski, who was named Europe's top footballer, shared his journey to success and tips for making it in your career with attendees of Business Insider's Global Trends Festival.
  • Lewandowski said that hard work, determination, and the support of loved ones is crucial to success, and that both companies and sports teams need strong leaders who can motivate them to reach their full potential.

Success doesn't happen by chance, according to Robert Lewandowski, the famous Bayern Munich striker and the captain of Poland's national football team.

Speaking at Business Insider's Global Trends Festival, Lewandowski revealed that he has been betting on self-discipline, perseverance, consistency, and focus to get him ahead in his career, which has been impressive for a soccer star.

In the 2019-2020 season, Lewandowski won the UEFA Champions League with Bayern Munich and was named the playoffs' top scorer with his score of 15 goals. Then, in 2020 the UEFA named him Europe's best male footballer of the year.

He also holds a record for the fastest scored series of goals in the history of the top four European leagues. (In a 2015 match against VfL Wolfsburg, he scored five goals in nine minutes.)

"There is nothing more beautiful than doing work that is your passion," Lewandowski told event attendees Friday.


For him, his passion began in childhood. He said he was given his first ball when he was three years old and used the yard in front of his family home in Leszno as his pitch. At the time, his mother played netball professionally while his father trained judo.

"Right from my earliest years I was watching the life of sportspeople," he said. "I had a sporting spirit hardwired in my DNA."

He recalled that when he started training, his parents were driving him 4-5 times a week from their small Warsaw suburban town to the capital, 30 kilometers each way.

Keys to success

"Dreams alone are not enough to get to the top. It takes really hard work. It's not only the time with the trainer on the pitch but also working on oneself, overcoming weaknesses, fears, and stereotypes," he said.

He said he had his share of doubters, including someone who told him he was too short to be a striker.


"If not for my strong will that stopped me from doubting in myself, today I would still be talking about my dreams, not about the successes," he said.

To illustrate the point, he used the example of Thomas Edison, who once reportedly said that many of life's failures happen to people who did not realize how close they were to success.

"I have met many talented people myself. However, they run short of strength, determination or belief in their abilities," Lewandowski said.

Another key ingredient of success is the support of family and loved ones, according to Lewandowski.

"I was very lucky, having the support of my parents right from the start," he said. "Unfortunately my Dad died before my debut in professional football. He has not seen a single goal in my senior matches. But I know that today he would be very proud of me."


What does football have in common with business?

Lewandowski says they're based on the same pillars. The foundation is the players, their stamina, and determination to win. Then add motivation, the right strategy, and cooperation. Ultimately, it's the team that counts for more than any individual player.

"On the pitch you need cooperation. There will be no striker without assists. There will be no goals without a striker. It's this entire synergy between the players that makes football so fascinating. And this is what it has in common with business," Lewandowski said.

He added that every team and every company needs a strong leader who directs and takes on responsibility for the whole team, especially when it comes to motivating that team. Motivation is an even more important factor during times of change like the present COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

"The pandemic has caught the whole world by surprise; no one could have predicted it. We all have to change the ways we have been functioning so far. We are changing our habits, looking for new solutions and putting them into practice," he said.