Saturday 18 November 2017

Lukaku ready to realise Chelsea dream

Jeremy Wilson

When Romelu Lukaku arrives for a medical this week to join manager Andre Villas-Boas ahead of his £18m move to Chelsea, there will be nothing forced or hollow in the declaration that he is realising a childhood dream.

Lukaku -- and the rest of his classmates at the Sint-Guido Instituut in Anderlecht -- made a school field-trip to London two years ago and, on top of taking in the other main sights around the capital, a visit was made to Stamford Bridge.

The allegiance of Lukaku, just 16 but already regarded as one of the best strikers in Europe, was barely concealed. It was also chronicled in a fly-on-the-wall documentary entitled 'De school van Lukaku'.

Upon first casting his eyes over Stamford Bridge, Lukaku says: "Give me a ball and I will play here for five hours. What a stadium. If one day in my life I will cry, it will be the day I play here. I love Chelsea."

Lukaku's teacher then encourages him to keep up with the rest of the party. "You can dream on later," says the teacher. Still gazing at the pitch, Lukaku replies: "This is not dreaming. I will do it. One day I will play here."

With Real Madrid having bid for Lukaku last summer, the importance of Didier Drogba in sealing this deal for Chelsea should not be underestimated.

Lukaku idolises Drogba and the two players have been in contact over the past year. Aside from their friendship, the playing similarities are obvious.

At 6ft 3in and with a similarly muscular build, Lukaku also specialises as a lone central striker. In youth team football for Anderlecht, Lukaku scored 121 goals in just 88 matches and, at the age of just 16, amassed 15 goals in only 25 starts in his first senior season.

Niko Laine, a television presenter in Belgium, succinctly described Lukaku as being a "teenager with the physique of a heavyweight boxer".

Gunther de Vos, a journalist in Belgium, says that Lukaku's main quality is his strength. "Even when he was first playing in the Belgian League as a boy who just turned 16, he was very strong," he said.

Those who know Lukaku also describe a level-headed personality. The guidance of his father, Roger, himself a former professional footballer, has clearly been vital.

"His father played a big part in his career and development," said De Vos. "Roger always stressed that Romelu couldn't leave Anderlecht before he finished school. Lukaku has always been a big fan of Chelsea and Drogba. Getting the chance to play there was his inspiration to work hard and to turn himself into a better player." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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