Lukas Josef Podolski (German pronunciation: [ˈluːkas poˈdɔlski]; born Łukasz Józef Podolski (IPA: [ˈwukaʂ pɔˈdɔlskʲi]) on 4 June 1985) is a German footballer who plays as a forward for Turkish club Galatasaray. He is a left-footed attacker known for his strong shot, technique and probing attacks from the left side.
He joined 1. FC Köln in 1995 where he broke into the first team in 2003 and made 81 appearances for the club before moving to Bayern Munich. With Bayern, Podolski won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2008. Podolski returned to 1. FC Köln in 2009. He later signed for Premier League club Arsenal in 2012, with whom he won the FA Cup in 2014. Having fallen out of favour with Arsenal, he moved on loan to Italian club Inter in January 2015, then permanently to Galatasaray six months after.
Although he was eligible to play for Germany and Poland, Podolski chose to play for Germany. He was first capped by Germany in 2004 and has been part of the squad in all major tournaments since then, winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He is the third most-capped player in German history, with 129 caps, and the third-highest goalscorer in German history, having scored 48 times.
On 29 May 2013, Podolski scored the fastest goal in German national team history, after just 9 seconds of the 4–2 friendly win over Ecuador. It was also the second fastest international goal in history, second only to San Marino's Davide Gualtieri's 8.3-second strike against England in 1993. Podolski retired from international football on 15 August 2016.
1. FC Köln
Podolski began playing football at the age of six in the youth team of FC 07 Bergheim, where he played until he joined 1. FC Köln at the age of ten. It was there that Podolski's talents were first noticed. In 2003, at the age of 18, Podolski was still part of the club's youth side. At this time the club found itself in dire straits battling to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. First team boss Marcel Koller, working on a shoestring budget, invited Podolski to train with the senior players and he made his top flight debut shortly afterwards on 22 November 2003. Even though Köln failed to avoid a drop to the 2nd division, Podolski had shown what he could do, scoring 10 goals in his first 19 senior appearances. This was the best tally by an 18-year-old in the history of the Bundesliga.
Though his call up to the German Euro 2004 squad brought along interest from several top clubs, Podolski stayed at Köln to help the club gain promotion in the 2004–05 season. With 24 goals, Podolski advanced to become the league's best scorer. Somewhat unusually, Podolski remained part of the Germany squad, even though he did not play in the national top-tier league.
After Köln were promoted, the pressure was on Podolski to keep the club in the Bundesliga practically singlehandedly. Podolski managed to score 12 goals in the 2005–06 season, but eventually, Köln were relegated again. It became clear that Podolski would not stay again to push them through the 2006–07 season—even more so, as Podolski was becoming an integral part of the national team.
FC Bayern Munich
In 2006, clubs such as Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Hamburger SV, Werder Bremen, and Real Madrid manifested their interest in Podolski, even though he had a contract with 1. FC Köln through 2007. On 1 June 2006, Podolski announced that a transfer agreement had been reached with Bayern Munich, allowing him to join the Bavarian side for the 2006–07 season. Financial details of the deal were not immediately available, but the transfer fee was speculated to be around €10 million. He made his Bundesliga debut for Bayern on 11 August 2006, coming on as a substitute in the 88th minute of a 2–0 victory against Borussia Dortmund. On 9 September 2006, he came on as a second-half substitute in a DFB-Pokal game versus FC St. Pauli. Only 26 seconds after the second half started, he scored the equaliser, leveling the match 1–1. On 14 October 2006, with his first Bundesliga goal for Bayern, Podolski helped to secure the club's 4–2 win over Hertha BSC. On 26 October 2006, Podolski suffered a serious injury to his right ankle joint caused by teammate, Mark van Bommel, during a training session. Consequently, Podolski missed more than five match weeks. He returned from this injury and scored against Alemannia Aachen.
After Bayern bought in Italian striker Luca Toni in 2007, Podolski received less playing time due to coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's preference to partner Miroslav Klose and Toni together instead. However, Bayern ended the 2007–08 season by winning a league and cup double, giving Podolski the first major silverware of his career.
Despite former national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann taking charge of Bayern for the 2008–09 season, Podolski again failed to break into the team's regular first choice line-up. After a rather unhappy spell at Bayern, he returned to former club Köln on 1 July 2009.
Return to 1. FC Köln
After Podolski was assured by national team coach Joachim Löw that a return to FC Köln would not harm his chances of international football, an agreement to sign him was agreed between Bayern Munich and Köln in January 2009, although he would not return to Köln until the start of the summer transfer window. On 1 July, Podolski returned to Köln on a four-year contract, at a reported fee of around €10 million, equivalent to the fee Bayern paid to sign him in 2006. Köln created a website where people were able to buy pixels of an image of Podolski for €25 per 8x8 pixel square, in order to gather €1 million to reduce the cost of the transfer; Formula One driver and Köln supporter Michael Schumacher bought several pixels for €875.
Having just moved from Bayern Munich, Podolski had a poor first season at Köln, scoring just three times the entire season. One of his goals however, came from a free kick against his former club to salvage a draw.
Out of respect for his loyalty and achievements for the club, 1. FC Köln chose to retire his famous No. 10 shirt as long as he is an active football player. However, Köln began assigning the number 10 shirt again at the start of the 2014–15 Bundesliga season.
Podolski was linked with Premier League club Arsenal throughout the 2012 winter transfer window but no deal materialised. However, on 30 April 2012, it was officially announced that Podolski had signed for Arsenal on a long-term deal, for an undisclosed fee. On 12 August 2012, Podolski started for Arsenal in a pre-season match against his former club, Köln, scoring twice, once from a penalty in a 4–0 victory. Podolski took the number 9 from Park Chu-Young, who had been loaned out to Celta Vigo, after the number 10 shirt vacated by Robin van Persie was given to Jack Wilshere. Podolski then started in his first official match for Arsenal against Sunderland on the opening day of the Premier League on 18 August 2012. He played 63 minutes before being subbed off for another 2012 summer signing, Olivier Giroud, in the match which finished 0–0. He scored his first goal for Arsenal on 2 September in a 2–0 win against Liverpool at Anfield whilst also providing the assist for Santi Cazorla to score his first for the Gunners. Podolski scored his second goal for Arsenal in the following game, scoring a free-kick from 25 yards in a 6–1 victory against Southampton.
On 18 September 2012, he scored his first UEFA Champions League goal for the Gunners in a 2–1 away win against Montpellier. In Arsenal's second game in the Champions League, Podolski scored again as Arsenal defeated Greek champions Olympiacos 3–1 on 3 October. Podolski then scored his first goal in more than a month against Fulham in a thrilling 3–3 draw. On 17 November, Podolski scored his fourth League goal as Arsenal defeated Tottenham 5–2 in the North London derby. He then helped Arsenal qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League by scoring the second goal as Arsenal beat Montpellier 2–0. Podolski then played a pivotal part in an impressive 5–2 win away from home against Reading at the Madejski Stadium, scoring the first goal and assisting 2 more, which had helped teammate Santi Cazorla to score his first ever hat-trick. On 30 December 2012, Podolski played an integral part of the team that beat Newcastle 7–3. His first contribution was an incisive pass to Theo Walcott for Arsenal's first goal. In addition, due to Newcastle's failure to clear the ball off their line, Podolski pounced on a header for his last goal of 2012. He was substituted for Aaron Ramsey to a standing ovation. On 23 January 2013, Podolski produced an impressive performance as Arsenal beat West Ham 5–1, scoring one goal and setting up three others. On 2 February 2013, Podolski scored the only goal via a deflected free-kick to earn the Gunners a 1–0 victory over Stoke City. On 13 April, Podolski sealed a 3–1 win over Norwich City by scoring his first goal since February. After Giroud's three-game ban appeal was rejected, Podolski began playing as a centre forward, starting with the 1–1 draw against Manchester United. Podolski then scored twice in a 4–1 victory over Wigan Athletic, resulting in Wigan's relegation from the Premier League. Podolski ended his first season in Arsenal with a total of 16 goals and 11 assists.
On 24 August 2013, Podolski netted his first goals of the 2013–14 season, scoring twice for Arsenal away at Fulham in a 3–1 win. However, he was injured in his next match in the Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahçe and was ruled out for 10 weeks. Podolski returned for Arsenal against West Ham United in a 3–1 win on Boxing Day, scoring the team's third goal in the 79th minute. Podolski netted his first two goals in 2014 with a brace in a 4–0 FA Cup fourth round win over Coventry City. He later scored in a 2–1 FA Cup win over Liverpool in February to send Arsenal through to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Podolski scored two goals in March as he began to feature more regularly in the Gunners starting line-up. His first was a goal against his former club, FC Bayern Munich, in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League last 16 tie. Podolski's goal proved nothing more than a consolation, as Arsenal crashed out of Europe, losing 3–1 on aggregate to the defending champions.
His second goal in March was an equaliser against Swansea City in the Premier League clash. A minute after scoring, Podolski provided an assist for team-mate Olivier Giroud, who gave Arsenal a 2–1 lead. However, a last minute own goal by Mathieu Flamini meant the game finished 2–2 and effectively ended Arsenal's hopes of lifting the Premier League title for another season.
Arsenal qualified for the FA Cup final on 12 April following a win against Wigan, in which Podolski was substituted after 68 minutes. He scored twice in Arsenal's next game, a 3–1 win against West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium and followed that display up with another brace in Arsenal's next game, a 3–0 win away to Hull City. He started in the 2014 FA Cup Final against Hull City and left the pitch for Yaya Sanogo after 61 minutes as Hull led Arsenal 1–2. Arsenal went on to win the game 3–2 after extra time, thereby ending the club's nine-year trophy drought.
In November, Podolski spoke about his unrest with his current role with Arsenal and his lack of game time, saying: "Of course I am not happy with my situation right now. I can't be satisfied with that. It is hard when you can't do what you love."
Inter Milan (loan)
On 5 January 2015, Arsenal announced that Podolski had completed a move to Serie A club Inter Milan on loan for the remainder of the 2014–15 season. He joined the side for training after the deal was finalised ahead of their league match away to Juventus on 6 January. In the 1–1 draw at the Juventus Stadium, he came on as a substitute for Zdravko Kuzmanović after 54 minutes. Podolski was not named in Inter's squad list for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League with coach Roberto Mancini preferring Xherdan Shaqiri over the German international. On 28 April 2015, Podolski scored his first goal with Inter to win the match 2–1 in the 65th minute against Udinese.
Podolski signed a three-year contract with Turkish club Galatasaray on 4 July 2015 for an initial fee of £1.8 million, after which the Süper Lig champions will pay Arsenal £2.1 million for three consecutive seasons thereafter. He instantly won the Turkish Super Cup. In the final of the Turkish Cup on 26 May 2016, he scored the decisive goal for Galatasaray in the 1–0 win over Fenerbahçe.
International debut and breakthrough
In late 2003, after several impressive performances in his first few Bundesliga games, Polish media suggested then-Polish national team coach Paweł Janas should check Podolski out, as he was still eligible to play for Poland. Janas ignored the request stating in one of the press interviews that "as for today we have much better strikers in Poland and I don't see a reason to call up a player just because he played one or two good matches in the Bundesliga. He's not even a regular starter at his club." By that time Podolski was still interested in representing Poland, but as the season progressed German media increasingly highlighted his performances to suggest he should be called up to the German national team. When his full potential was finally unveiled, he had already decided to represent Germany. At the end of the season Köln were relegated, but Podolski impressed so much, that he held his debut for Rudi Völler's Germany on 6 June 2004, at age 19, in Kaiserslautern against Hungary with a late substitute appearance. He had become the first second-division player since 1975 to break into the national team.
Podolski played for Germany at Euro 2004, where he was the squad's youngest player. He made one substitute appearance in the game against the Czech Republic, when he came on for Torsten Frings at half-time.
2006 World Cup
Podolski was selected in the Germany squad for the 2006 World Cup, where he partnered Miroslav Klose as the attack duo in the starting lineup. He scored his first ever World Cup goal in Germany's third group match against Ecuador, and both goals in the 2–0 win over Sweden in the round of 16. He became the first player since 1962 to score two goals in the first 12 minutes of a World Cup match and only the third player ever to accomplish the feat. Germany finished third in the tournament, and while his teammate Miroslav Klose won the Golden Boot competition, Podolski's three goals tied him for second place with Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Maxi Rodríguez, Hernán Crespo and Zinedine Zidane. Podolski was named the World Cup's Best Young Player ahead of players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a Euro 2008 qualifying game against San Marino in Serravalle Podolski netted four goals in Germany's record 13–0 thrashing. He is one of only four German players to score four goals in an international match. He was the third after Gerd Müller and Michael Ballack, and since this, Mario Gómez has accomplished this feat. In Germany's 4–1 win against Slovakia in Bratislava on 11 October 2006, he scored the first and the last German goal, both on assists by Miroslav Klose. He has continued to score goals at an astonishing rate. On 17 November 2007, in a Euro qualifier match against Cyprus, Podolski was involved in every goal in Germany's 4–0 victory. This was one of Podolski's best performances for the national team. Even though he played out of his natural position, playing at left midfield, he netted one goal himself and was voted Man of the Match.
On 8 June 2008, Podolski made his Euro 2008 entrance against debutants Poland in a Group B match in Klagenfurt, Austria. He scored both goals in a 2–0 victory. He avoided celebrating his goals, however, to show respect for his country of birth. After the game he gave an emotional interview on Polish television. The goals put him in the lead in the Euro 2008 goal-scoring list for two days until David Villa scored a hat-trick for Spain against Russia.
On 12 June, Germany played Croatia in their second Group B match, again in Klagenfurt. Podolski scored the German team's only goal of the game in the 79th minute, by which time the Croatians were already leading 2–0. He did not celebrate this goal either despite it putting him joint first on the Euro 2008 goal-scoring list with David Villa. Podolski's goal was not enough to snatch a draw, with Croatia holding out for a 2–1 victory over Germany. On 19 June, Germany played Portugal in the quarterfinal in Basel, Podolski was instrumental in the first goal, whipping a cross into the penalty box that was slotted home by Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 22nd minute to give Germany a 1–0 lead.
On the international scene, Podolski seems to be gravitating towards an attacking left midfield role from his traditional place as a striker. Initially, Löw had moved him to the wing in order to accommodate the partnership of Klose and Mario Gómez up front. When this backfired, he resumed his forward position in the UEFA Euro 2008 Final, but was unable to prevent Germany losing 1–0 to Spain. In a controversial incident, Podolski was headbutted by Spanish midfielder David Silva, although this went unnoticed by the referee and his assistants, and went unpenalised. Lukas Podolski was named in the 23-man squad as one of the players of the tournament along with countrymen Michael Ballack and Philipp Lahm.
2010 World Cup
On 6 September 2008, Podolski scored the opening two goals in Germany's first 2010 World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein in Vaduz; a match that ended in a 6–0 victory for the Germans. He scored the opener in the 2–1 home win over Russia on 11 October, when he turned Vasili Berezutski on the edge of the penalty area, before unleashing a powerful shot past Russia's goalkeeper Akinfeev. He finished the qualification campaign second highest scorer of Group 4 with six goals, behind teammate Miroslav Klose's 7. During one of the qualifying matches, he was involved in a bust-up with team captain Michael Ballack.
On 13 June 2010, Podolski, who had become accustomed to his position as a winger scored the first goal in Germany's World Cup opening game in a 4–0 win against Australia, before assisting teammate Thomas Müller for the third goal. On 18 June, Podolski missed a second-half penalty after a handling infraction committed by Nemanja Vidić in the 1–0 loss to Serbia. The German team had gone down to 10-men after a second yellow was shown to Miroslav Klose in the 36th minute. Even though the Germans played with 10-men throughout the rest of the game, Podolski had numerous chances on goal. However he was unable to capitalize, and the game ended in a surprise defeat for the Germans. However, he managed to score against England in the last 16, giving Germany a 2–0 advantage in the first half. They went on to beat England 4–1. In the quarter-final against Argentina, Podolski provided the assist for the first of Klose's two goals, bringing the score to 2–0. The Germans won the match 4–0.
During qualification, Podolski provided assists for three goals and scored three times, helping Germany to win all ten matches of their qualification campaign. During Euro 2012, Podolski started all three of Germany's Group B games, the third being his 100th appearance for Germany; a game in which he also scored. Podolski's last game at Euro 2012 was against the Italian national team in the semi-finals where Germany were defeated 2–1.
2014 World Cup
Podolski was part of Germany's 2014 World Cup campaign. Prior to the tournament, he played in five qualification matches. In the World Cup finals in Brazil, he appeared in the victories over USA and Portugal in the group stages, but did not play the full 90 minutes. Germany went on to become World Champions.
Euro 2016 and retirement
Podolski was included in the squad for UEFA Euro 2016. He made a substitute appearance against Slovakia during the tournament. After the tournament, on 15 August, he announced his retirement from international football claiming he wants to shift his focus and spend more time with his family.
- As of matches played on 14 August 2016.
|Köln II||2002–03||Regionalliga Nord||1||0||—||1||0|
|Bayern Munich II||2007–08||Regionalliga Süd||2||0||—||—||2||0|
|Inter Milan (loan)||2014–15||Serie A||17||1||1||0||—||18||1|
- 1. Includes statistics from English FA Cup, German FA Cup, Italian FA Cup and Turkish FA Cup.
- 2. Includes English League Cup and German League Cup.
International career statistics
National team statistics
- As of 26 June 2016
|Germany national team|
|1||21 December 2004||Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand||Thailand||3–1||5–1||Friendly|
|3||26 March 2005||Bežigrad Stadium, Ljubljana, Slovenia||Slovenia||1–0||1–0|
|4||4 June 2005||Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland||Northern Ireland||4–1||4–1|
|5||15 June 2005||Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt, Germany||Australia||4–2||4–3||FIFA Confederations Cup 2005|
|6||25 June 2005||Frankenstadion, Nuremberg, Germany||Brazil||1–1||2–3|
|7||29 June 2005||Zentralstadion, Leipzig, Germany||Mexico||1–0||4–3|
|8||7 September 2005||Olympiastadion Berlin, Berlin, Germany||South Africa||1–0||4–2||Friendly|
|11||27 May 2006||Badenova Stadion, Freiburg, Germany||Luxembourg||3–0||7–0||Friendly|
|13||20 June 2006||Olympiastadion Berlin, Berlin, Germany||Ecuador||3–0||3–0||FIFA World Cup 2006|
|14||24 June 2006||Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany||Sweden||1–0||2–0||FIFA World Cup 2006|
|16||2 September 2006||Gottlieb Daimler Stadion, Stuttgart, Germany||Republic of Ireland||1–0||1–0||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|17||6 September 2006||Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino||San Marino||1–0||13–0||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|21||11 October 2006||Tehelné Pole Stadion, Bratislava, Slovakia||Slovakia||1–0||4–1||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|23||12 September 2007||Rhein-Energie Stadion, Cologne, Germany||Romania||3–1||3–1||Friendly|
|24||17 November 2007||AWD Arena, Hanover, Germany||Cyprus||3–0||4–0||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|25||26 March 2008||St. Jakob Park, Basel, Switzerland||Switzerland||4–0||4–0||Friendly|
|26||8 June 2008||Wörthersee Stadion, Klagenfurt, Austria||Poland||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2008|
|28||12 June 2008||Wörthersee Stadion, Klagenfurt, Austria||Croatia||1–2||1–2||UEFA Euro 2008|
|29||6 September 2008||Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz, Liechtenstein||Liechtenstein||1–0||6–0||FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying|
|31||11 October 2008||Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany||Russia||1–0||2–1||FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying|
|32||28 March 2009||Zentralstadion, Leipzig, Germany||Liechtenstein||4–0||4–0||FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying|
|33||29 May 2009||Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai, China||China PR||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|34||9 September 2009||AWD-Arena, Hanover, Germany||Azerbaijan||4–0||4–0||FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying|
|35||14 October 2009||HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg, Germany||Finland||1–1||1–1||FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying|
|36||18 November 2009||Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany||Ivory Coast||1–0||2–2||Friendly|
|38||29 May 2010||Stadium Puskás Ferenc, Budapest, Hungary||Hungary||1–0||3–0||Friendly|
|39||13 June 2010||Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa||Australia||1–0||4–0||FIFA World Cup 2010|
|40||28 June 2010||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa||England||2–0||4–1||FIFA World Cup 2010|
|41||7 September 2010||RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne, Germany||Azerbaijan||2–0||6–1||UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying|
|42||12 October 2010||Astana Arena, Astana, Kazakhstan||Kazakhstan||3–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying|
|43||2 September 2011||Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany||Austria||3–0||6–2||UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying|
|44||17 June 2012||Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine||Denmark||1–0||2–1||UEFA Euro 2012|
|45||29 May 2013||FAU Stadium, Miami, USA||Ecuador||1–0||4–2||Friendly|
|47||6 June 2014||Coface Arena, Mainz, Germany||Armenia||2–1||6–1||Friendly|
|48||25 March 2015||Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern, Germany||Australia||2–2||2–2||Friendly|
- Bayern Munich
- FIFA World Cup: 2014; Third Place 2006, 2010
- UEFA European Championship: Runner-up 2008
- FIFA Confederations Cup: Third Place 2005
- FIFA World Cup Best Young Player: 2006
- Silbernes Lorbeerblatt: 2006, 2010, 2014
- UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008
- 2.Bundesliga top goalscorer: 2004–05
In 1987, when Podolski was two years old, his family emigrated from Poland to West Germany and were given Aussiedler status as a result of his paternal grandparents having German citizenship prior to World War II (Gliwice was a part of Germany until 1945 as Gleiwitz). Podolski grew up in Bergheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, and later in Pulheim, both near Cologne.
Podolski holds both German and Polish nationality, but has stated that he does not have a Polish passport. In an interview Podolski said that the Polish Football Association never cared about him until he started playing for the German under-21 team and received coverage in the media. At that point, Podolski arrived at the decision, but nevertheless "there are two hearts beating" in his chest. Podolski speaks Polish and sometimes communicated with Bayern Munich and Germany strike partner Miroslav Klose, also a Polish-born Aussiedler, in Polish to hinder their opposition's understanding of their conversation.
In April 2011, Podolski married his longtime girlfriend Monika Puchalski in Cologne, Germany. They had a church wedding in Kamionna, Węgrów County, Poland in June 2011. They have a son, Louis Gabriel Podolski (born 14 April 2008) and a daughter, Maya (born 6 June 2016).
Podolski is a fan of KS Górnik Zabrze.