The Ambition of Romelu Lukaku: Flying to a Greater and Higher Destiny
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“You think you are flying and can take on the whole world.”[/perfectpullquote]
– Romelu Lukaku on scoring goals.
At 6 feet and 3 inches tall, the 23-year-old Romelu Lukaku runs like a hungry goal scoring machine. There is elegance with his touch, a control on and off the ball making it so darn difficult to detect which foot he will strike with. As per March 6, he has scored 32 times with his left foot and 17 times with his right.
And when it comes to physicality, Rio Ferdinand, the legendary Manchester United defender says it best: He is “an absolute handful, this guy, he can literally carry a couple of center halves on his back, run up the pitch, and score a goal.”
Tracing back his football career which kicked off professionally on May 13, 2009, at the age of 16 with Anderlecht, Lukaku already had a natural feel for scoring goals.
At Anderlecht, he bagged goals like they were drawn to him scoring 131 in 93 games as a youth player before making his mark at senior level with over 30 goals – 15 of those making him the top scorer in the Pro League at the time the Belgian side won its 30th title.
For his exploits, the Belgian International, Vicent Kompany described him as “a pearl,” and a gift from heaven for the impact he made in Belgium at the time.
Born in Antwerp, located in northern Belgium to Congolese parents, Lukaku’s inclination to football was somewhat genetic. His father, Roger Lukaku had played professionally for D.R. Congo, formerly known as Zaire.
His younger brother, Jordan Lukaku and cousin Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, are also playing professionally in Europe.
It’s safe to say that his father’s guidance has a big part to play in his maturity as a player. As per UEFA.com, after watching him score one goal and set up another in a win over Athletic Club, “celebrations were muted as the pair reflected on a late booking for kicking out at an opponent. ‘First I congratulated Romelu, but after that, I put him in his place,” the Kinshasa-born former striker said. “That is not done. He did not answer. That means he agreed with me.’”
Dreams at Stamford Bridge
Romelu’s early exploits in Belgium would send a beacon through Europe, and undoubtedly, the top tier teams noticed. Among them was Chelsea, the club of his dreams.
About two years before his official move to Chelsea, Lukaku visited the Stamford Bridge for the first time during a school trip.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“What a stadium… The day I’m playing here in this stadium is the single time in my life that you would see me cry,”[/perfectpullquote]
a wide-eyed Lukaku said. “I’m going to succeed.”
Suffice to say; the world learned just how ambitious the young man was. “Dreaming? I’m not dreaming. I’m going to play here someday. I’m sure!” he stated.
In 2011, his declaration would come to reality as he joined Chelsea. However, things did not turn out as he’d hoped. Lukaku spent much of his debut season playing in the reserves. At Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League win in 2012, Lukaku refused to hold the trophy because he felt like he didn’t earn it.
Later that year, Lukaku was loaned out to West Bromwich Albion. In an impressive season, he outscored all of his Chelsea teammates in the 2012/13 campaign with 17 goals to finish the sixth-highest goalscorer.
However, despite showing signs of significant improvement, Chelsea’s first team somehow seemed to elude Lukaku regardless of his disclosed desire to become a legend at the London side.
A move to Everton on loan ensued in the summer of 2013. In 2014, Lukaku signed a five-year deal with Everton for a club record fee of £28 million. The move from Chelsea may have been disappointing, but it did not quell his ambition.
In that season, Lukaku continued to work on getting better, by season’s end, he was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe.
Three years later at Everton, the ambitious striker has achieved a historic feat at the Goodison Park with 61 English Premier League (EPL) goals, making him the Toffee’s all-time scorer in the competition. Just this month, as per Everton FC, “his goal against Tottenham Hotspurs saw him move above four-time World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, in the leaderboard of most Premier League goals before turning 24,” with 81 altogether.
In a February interview with Sky Sports, the 23-year-old shared some insight on how he has arrived at this level of production:
“…. I think my problem before was that I was looking forward too much, and not focusing on the present.
“I want day-by-day objectives and to improve every day.
“… I just want to play football. For me, the most important thing is that the team does well. And that the fans are happy we are winning.
“… You can see on the pitch that I am really happy with the way we are performing right now, and we have to continue like that.
“Obviously I want to win the biggest trophies there are, as much as I can, but for me, I have to keep on going like I am,” he stated.
“If you want to become one of the best world players – if you look at the like of Messi, Ronaldo, Thierry Henry – they were players who were constantly improving, constantly getting better.
“That’s what I want to do; I don’t want to peak too early, I want to keep on getting better year after year.”
The striker added, “What do I do more this season? Working harder, I run more, that’s first of all. I got more consistency, and the manager wants me to do more on the pitch too.
“It’s been good, I am learning a lot, and I feel much better about how we are playing now, and I want to keep on improving like the rest of the team needs to do.
“In modern football, managers don’t just want strikers to attack; they want their strikers to defend, put pressure on the defense, and with my pace, if I can force a mistake, it can be to my benefit.
“I have the winning mentality and drive, so I’m happy with that.”
Everton Vs Title Dreams
Even though Lukaku is undoubtedly grateful for his time at Everton, the Belgian striker has much bigger dreams. Unfortunately for Everton fans, this means his departure from the club is inevitable.
And his coach, Ronald Koeman may know this but is reluctant to let him go, in a statement to the news company HLN.be, he said:
“His potential is greater and higher than Everton as a final destination.
“If Romelu was to play at Everton until the end of his career I know he has left something behind.
“I gave him confidence, and he has himself recognized that it was good for his development to play another year at Everton. What after this season comes, no-one knows.”
For Lukaku, it’s simple. It’s time to move on. Speaking to reporters while with the Belgium national team, Lukaku shared his thoughts:
“The decision has already been made so I can’t talk about that,” Lukaku said of his future.
It’s just his “ambition.” And he will defend it.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”There is nothing wrong with ambition. You have to embrace it and where you are as a footballer,” [/perfectpullquote]
he said. “I’ve made a long way until now but the road is still long, and I know I have to improve and get better. I want to help Everton as much as I can, as well as the national team. I think a lot of stuff can be achieved.
“Sometimes people will mistake things that I say, but it’s just ambition that I have; I want to win titles and trophies, and I don’t think people should take that as arrogance — people should embrace it.
“This is what footballers need to achieve if they want to become the best, and I think young kids need to learn that too.”
In Lukaku’s defense, Ferdinand added: “What are you going to be thinking about on the day you retire? It ain’t money… the thing that will be in your mind and at the forefront of any thinking will be, ‘where are my trophies?’ And that’s what Romelu Lukaku is thinking now.”
Further, he explained that Everton is a rebuilding team with new ownership and new ideas of going to a new stadium. Their future is bright, but Lukaku wants to win now.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of The Sun UK