Those of you who follow the EPL already know who Romelu Lukaku is. Those of you who don’t probably met him during tuesday’s round of 16 match up between the USMNT and Belgium, but are probably wondering where the hell he came from. Despite not subbing into the game until late, Lukaku basically imposed his will on the United States and crushed Klinsmann’s boys in the extra period, setting up the first goal and scoring the second. He’s been heralded by some as one of the most complete strikers in all of fútbol, so let’s get to know a little bit more about him.
The 21 year old was born in Antwerp, in northern Belgium, and is the son of Congolese former professional football player Roger Lokaku, who was good enough to play for the national team of Zaire during qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, and was even nominated for the Belgian League’s “Ebony Boot”–rewarded to the best player with African roots (They still give that award out… is that racist?). The younger Romelu played in the youth systems of Rupel Boom and Lierse, before being signed to R.S.C. Anderlecht–Belgiam’s most successful and popular team–where he spent the bulk of his youth ball. In 2009, at the age of 16, he signed his first professional contract with Anderlecht, and made his Belgian First Division debut as a sub in May of that year. By the end of the 2009-2010 season, he was the league’s leading scorer with 15 goals, and helped lead Anderlecht to its 30th Belgian title. When he followed up with 20 more goals the next year, he became an absolute superstar. It is said that his t-shirts made up 60% of all t-shirt sales for the club.a It was then that the EPL came calling.
Lokaku would soon leave Anderlecht for bluer pastures.
In August of 2011, Lukaku fulfilled a childhood dream by joining Chelsea for a reported €12-20 million (there were several add-ons that altered the value of the deal). He had always dreamed of playing for Chelsea, like his hero Didier Drogba–one of the best players in Chelsea’s history, and the Ivory Coast’s all-time leading scorer (we saw him play what was probably his last Wrold Cup this year). The comparisons between Lukake and Drogba began immediately, ranging from the physical–their size (6’3″, 200+ lbs), dreadlocks and probably the fact that both guys are black, and it’s racist Europe–to the style of play–both men have strength, pace and skill like few others. Chelsea supporters thought for sure they had the “new Drogba” in their midsts. It hasn’t quite worked out that way so far, but through no fault of Romelu’s.
After a year spent mostly as a reserve, Lukaku was loaned out to West Bromwich Albion, where he finally got a chance to play regularly. He didn’t disappoint, scoring 17 goals in 35 games and helping West Brom to it’s best ever finish in the premiere league (8th place). Early the next season, after missing a penalty kick that cost Chelsea the UEFA Super Cup, he was yet again loaned out; this time, to Everton F.C. Lukaku continued his great play for the Toffees, scoring 15 goals in 31 games and securing them a Europa League spot. With all that behind him, and his performance so far for the Belgian national team in the World Cup, maybe Chelsea can find a spot for him this year?
Speaking of the Belgian National team, Lukaku made his debut for the Red Devils in February of 2010, at just 17 years of age in a friendly against Croatia. His first two goals came that november in a friendly against Russia. In may of 2014, Lukaku was chosen for Belgium’s World Cup squad, and made his World Cup debut as a starter against Algeria, but didn’t do much in his 58 minutes of action, and was eventually subbed out and replaced by Divock Origi. It wasn’t until the Tuesday’s game against the USMNT that Lokaku really made an impact, but as I mentioned earlier, it was quite the impact. While still just a pup as far as the international scene is concerned, I expect Lukaku to play a big hand if Belgium s to get by Argentina in the quarter-finals. I have a feeling he’ll give El Bolso a whole lot to write about as this tournament continues.
Let’s Take a Look at the Goal:
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
- http://outsideoftheboot.com/2014/05/22/romelu-lukaku-scout-report-on-the-most-complete-young-striker/ (back)
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