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The Making of a Goal Machine


As Bayern’s head of science and fitness, Broich knows Lewandowski better than anyone. He knows that Lewandowski can tolerate an extraordinary amount of stress and pain, as his almost spotless injury record demonstrates. He knows that his metabolism allows him to develop, and regenerate, the sorts of muscle fiber a striker needs.

He knows that at least part of that is hard-wired into Lewandowski’s DNA. “Talent is a very broad term,” Broich said. “It has to do with genetic prerequisites, too.”

But Broich also believes that all of that accounts for only “40 to 60 percent” of athletes’ ability. The rest depends on who they are, what they do with it. And Klopp was not exaggerating when he said that Lewandowski’s whole life, for more than a decade, had been designed to help him score as many goals as possible.

It started with cornflakes. “Every morning, I ate cornflakes with milk,” Lewandowski said. “I thought it was fine. It was only breakfast, I was skinny, I had muscles. I thought sweet things were OK because I didn’t have a problem with my weight. But sometimes, by 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., I was tired, even before training, and I didn’t know why.”

So in his early 20s, he started to experiment. He cut out milk. He avoided refined sugar. “I saw a difference after a few weeks, a few months,” he said.

But his focus was not on the immediate. “I thought that if I changed the things I did, it could help me play at a higher level for longer,” he said. “I knew I could not expect immediate results. I did it because I had to try. I knew if I started at the top level a little later, I could be there for longer.”

Now — thanks in part to the expertise of his wife, Anna, a nutritionist — Lewandowski, semifamously, eats his meals in what is generally accepted to be the wrong order. “If I have time to have dessert, I prefer to eat it an hour or so before lunch,” he said. “I don’t always eat it, but if I do, I try to have a distance between carbohydrates and protein.”

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