'He (Robert Lewandowski) is a world class player and he knows the game. Poland must be delighted to have him'
Poland’s star striker Robert Lewandowski scored the winner to secure Poland a place at Euro 2016 with a 2-1 victory in Warsaw on Sunday that consigned a battling Ireland side to the playoffs.
Lewandowski's header just before halftime in the Group D match was his 15th goal in the last six games for his club Bayern Munich and country.
He also equalled Northern Ireland forward David Healy's scoring record for a Euro qualifying campaign with 13 goals.
"I have to tell you I'm so proud," Lewandowski shouted through a microphone to fans wearing a red and white ‘Vive la Pologne 2016’ T-shirt while his team mates uncorked champagne on the pitch.
Asked if Lewandowski could win the Ballon D'or world footballer of the year award, Ireland’s coach Martin O'Neill said: "Yeah, very possibly. He is a very fine player. I say that he is a world class player and he knows the game. Poland must be delighted to have him."
Plying his trade for Bayern Munich, Lewandowski netted the Bundesliga's fastest hat-trick on his way to a sensational five-goal haul as a halftime substitute in their 5-1 demolition of VfL Wolfsburg in September.
He scored three goals in four minutes from the 51st to the 55th before quickly adding two more, including a spectacular volley, to become the first Bundesliga player to score five times in nine minutes.
The week after that, Lewandowski scored twice in a 3-0 win at Mainz 05 to extend Bayern Munich’s lead at the top to four points.
Lewandowski became the first foreign player to require just 168 matches to score 100 goals in the Bundesliga.