Starting his career with Polish club Znicz Pruszków, Robert Lewandowski has scored 356 league goals during his excellent career. Now 30 years-of-age, the Bayern Munich striker is still going strong, leading the line for the Bundesliga club. This August, the Polish striker will turn 31. As he enters the final years of his prime, it’s time for him to focus on his club career. Here’s why retiring from international football will benefit the player, his club and his country long-term.
It’s Time for Robert Lewandowski to Retire From International Football
A Polish Legend
Lewandowski’s international career has seen him become many things. A leader, a legend and even a record breaker, the Bayern striker has done it all for his country. Making his debut against San Marino, a 20-year-old Lewandowski scored in his first senior game. He would become the second youngest Polish player ever to score on their debut. This would be the start of a superb international career. Two years later, he was leading his nation into Euro 2012. Now an established goalscorer at Borussia Dortmund, Lewandowski was seen as a key player heading into the tournament. Scoring the first goal of Euro 2012, his first ever tournament goal remains his only tournament goal to date. Similar to England legend Wayne Rooney, the former Dortmund striker was always responsible for his country’s qualification. However, his tournament struggles will always dent his legacy.
Playing 102 games for the Eagles, the prolific Pole scored 55 goals, breaking Włodzimierz Lubański’s record. The Bayern forward never had a standout tournament, but will always be loved and admired by Polish fans for single-handily carrying his nation to Euro 2016 and the World Cup in Russia. Scoring 29 goals during the qualifying stages of both tournaments combined, Lewandowski was the player his country desperately needed. However, after three disappointing tournaments, it’s time for the 30-year-old and his nation to move on.
Poland Are Ready to Move On
In recent years, as Lewandowski neared 30, Poland have seen two rising stars emerge in Italy: Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik and AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piątek. Signing for Napoli in 2016, Milik experienced a slow start to his career in Naples. However, under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, Milik is thriving. Scoring 13 goals this season, the Polish forward has played a key role, helping Napoli achieve second place in Serie A. Tall, mobile and clinical, Milik is a ready-made replacement.
Announcing himself with Polish club Cracovia, Piątek’s rise has been staggering. Scoring 32 goals in 65 games, the 23-year-old impressed a number of clubs before signing for Serie A club Genoa. In his first season with Genoa, Piątek scored an absurd 19 goals in 21 games. A confident, clinical striker, the Polish number nine quickly attracted the attention of Italian giants AC Milan. Signing in January for €35 million, the Pole has made a great early impression in Milan. Scoring four goals in four games, Piątek appears to be the next big thing in both Italian and Polish football. These two strikers have combined to score 14 goals for Poland, making them viable options to shoulder the load. Replacing a quality striker like Lewandowski is never going to be easy, but Poland have two potential successors, both more than capable to lead the line moving forward.
Extending His Club Career
With players like Milik and Piątek, it’s time for Lewandowski to seriously consider his future. In this situation, the Polish striker should follow the example set by two fellow Bayern Munich legends. Franck Ribery and Philipp Lahm both walked away from international football earlier than expected. This helped both players extend their careers at the very top. As he edges towards 31, the Bayern striker should prioritise his club career.
Scoring goals on a regular basis, Lewandowski could play a key role in Munich for many more years if he follows the example set by his teammates. Captain of his country, walking away won’t be easy. It’s also unlikely, given the player’s love of leading his nation and scoring goals. However, if he truly cares about longevity and extending his career, the world-class Pole should make the brave decision and step away from his Internation duties with Poland.