Robert Lewandowski is one of the greatest football players to play for Poland. The dynamic frontman has scored 61 goals for his country – the most of any player in history for the Kadra.
However, where does Robert Lewandowski rank among the greatest ever players to play for Poland? The following list of the five best players to don the white and red shirt will answer that question.
Is Robert Lewandowski the Greatest to Play for Poland?
A real Polish icon.
Jakub Błaszczykowski, or Kuba to his many admirers, has been an incredible servant for the Polish national team.
Making his debut in 2006, the winger shined when it mattered most – he always showed up in the biggest of matches.
This was shown in 2012 when Poland faced Russia in the European Championships. The two countries have a long history of conflict, so it’s fair to say that the atmosphere was charged heading into the game.
It got even worse when Russia opened the scoring. Poland huffed and puffed, but couldn’t find an equaliser – but then Błaszczykowski broke through. The winger picked up the ball and drove an incredible strike into the top corner of the opposition goal.
His wild celebration symbolised his close bond with Poland and his desire to always win with his country. While the white and reds couldn’t pick up a victory on that day, Błaszczykowski’s incredible strike will never be forgotten.
But it was four years later when the winger really made his mark. In Euro 2016, Poland had a magical run, and that was down to Kuba. He assisted Arkadiusz Milik‘s winner against Northern Ireland and scored a lovely goal against Ukraine as Poland cruised through the group stage.
In the round of 16, Kuba opened the scoring against Switerzland; however, the team let in a late equaliser, and the game went to penalties.
The team held their nerve to set up a meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. The game also went to penalties, but this time the Poles lost, and Kuba missed the decisive spot-kick.
However, fans never held a grudge towards the winger, and he was welcomed as a hero when he returned to Poland. While many players have donned the shirt of the Kadra, none were as determined to succeed as Kuba. His legacy is one of always being for the team and never giving up.
Who was the top scorer at the 1974 World Cup? Some might say Cruyff, while others might mention Gerd Muller. But, in reality, it was neither of them, as Gregorz Lato took home that honour.
Blessed with electrifying pace, Lato scored an incredible seven goals at those World Cup finals in West Germany. He scored decisive goals against Sweden and Yugoslavia as the Poles made a Cinderella-type run in that tournament. Unfortunately for them, they were felled by West Germany in the semi-finals, but Lato did end his tournament in style by scoring against Brazil in the third-place game as Poland clinched the bronze medal.
The most remarkable aspect of Lato’s game was that he was a simple player. He was never one to wow the crowd; instead, he would go out there and score goals.
What keeps him at only fourth place on this list is that he failed to produce in other tournaments. In both the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, Lato was unable to reproduce his earlier dominance.
3. Kazimierz Deyna
Kazimierz Deyna was not what you would expect from a typical Polish player. He wasn’t your hard-working midfielder or stubborn defensive player – Deyna had flair.
Making his international debut in 1968, Deyna was part of Poland’s most remarkable ever football team. The skillful midfielder won a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic games and starred as Poland won third place at the 1974 World Cup.
The top scorer with nine goals at the 1972 Olympics, Deyna had an eye for the spectacular. In those Olympic Games, Poland went behind to a great Hungary team in the final. But Deyna responded – the midfielder struck a stunning shot into the bottom corner from 30 yards after evading his man. That goal symbolised how Deyna played and is an iconic moment in Polish footballing history.
It got even better for the midfielder. In the 68th minute, Deyna capitalised on bad Hungarian defending to put Poland into the lead.
The midfielder’s form continued as he helped his country to impressive wins over Argentina, Italy and Yugoslavia in the 1974 World Cup.
Deyna’s performances didn’t go unnoticed, and he came third in the 1974 Ballon D’or race, behind only Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer.
Tragically, Deyna died in a car accident at the age of 41 in 1989. For Poles everywhere, this was a tragedy as the country lost one of its most iconic mavericks.
2. Robert Lewandowski
Arguably the best pure striker in the world, Robert Lewandowski failed to produce for Poland at the same level as he did for his club for a long time.
He seemed to struggle in a Poland team that failed to get the best out of him. But then, the Euro 2016 qualifiers rolled around, and to say Lewandowski dominated is an understatement.
The striker seemed to score in every game and saved Poland when they needed him most. From a last-gasp equaliser against Scotland to a decisive goal against Ireland, Lewandowski never let the side down.
But, while the team shined at the Euros in 2016, Lewandowski only scored one goal, and at the World Cup in 2018, he failed to score.
This failure to produce at major tournaments is why he cannot be named the greatest player to represent Poland.
He has, without doubt, the best club career of any Polish player, but he needs to improve at major tournaments if he wants to be the best to play for the white and reds.
Yet, he still has the time to show his class, and it would be not very smart to bet against him.
1. Zbigniew Boniek
The greatest to ever do it for Poland – Zbigniew Boniek was a midfielder who dominated the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
Selected by Pele as one of the best footballers of all time, Boniek could do it all on a football pitch. Usually playing as a creative midfielder, he could also operate as a second striker. Famous for his trademark moustache and broad physique, Boniek had pace and strength. Boniek also had an eye for an incredible pass and was arguably one of the best dribblers of all-time.
He even got praised by arguably the greatest of them all.
When Poland needed him the most, he produced.
He scored as the Poles beat Peru 5-1 to advance to the second round, and in that phase, he notched a hat trick as they beat Belgium.
Unfortunately, he was suspended for the game against Italy in the semi-finals, and Poland lost 2-0. They responded in the third-place match and beat France to clinch the bronze medal.
FIFA named Boniek in the team of the tournament, and his performance at that World Cup makes him the most outstanding player to play for Poland.
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