With an incredible performance against Panama in the World Cup, Romelu Lukaku spoke with The Players Tribune about how his childhood sufferings gave him meaning to become the best player in Belgium.
The Belgium superstar, who bagged 2 goals for his country on Monday, proved his worth for the squad as Belgium won 3-0 against Panama. Lukaku’s tunnel vision of becoming the best player gave him a kick start when he found his parents vulnerable in the cobweb of poverty.
What affected him the most was witnessing his mother trying to cope with poverty. Despite the suffering, his mother did the best she could to not let Lukaku be aware of their condition.
"When she was mixing in water with the milk, I realised it was over, you know what I mean? This was our life." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune
From then on, Lukaku made a promise, to himself and his mom that he would get things back on track for them. He started working on his craft with sheer determination and there was nothing to lead him astray from his goal.
"People in football love to talk about mental strength. Well, I’m the strongest dude you’re ever going to meet. Because I remember sitting in the dark with my brother and my mom, saying our prayers, and thinking, believing, knowing – it’s going to happen." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune
Despite people questioning him about his age and inspecting his identity, Lukaku was on a mission.
"Mum, it’s gonna change. You’ll see. I’m going to play football for Anderlecht, and it’s going to happen soon. We’ll be good. You won’t have to worry anymore." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune
Lukaku wanted to stand out from the rest of the players and make it as a pro footballer. He was not satisfied and wanted more. He worked strenuously hard on his craft and bagged 25 goals for the Under-19 squad, given the time period which seemed impossible for his coach, who was led on by a silly bet by the Belgian striker.
"I’ll guarantee you something. If you actually play me, I’m going to score 25 goals by December." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune
He signed his Pro contract with Anderlecht on his 16th birthday, 13 May 2009.
Following his hardwork and determination, Lukaku had fulfilled the promise he had made to his mom and grand father. He played pro football for Anderlecht at the age of 16 in the second leg final against Standard Liege.
"We lost the final that day, but I was already in heaven. I made good on my promise to my mother and to my grandad. That was the moment I knew we were gonna be okay." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune
Now things were shaping up for the belgian star, and the media started putting expectations on him.
"When things weren’t going well, they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker of Congolese descent." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune
Lukaku overlooked these critiques and kept working on his craft. Twelve years later he was playing the World Cup and was past all the criticisms he faced.
There were times where he couldn’t even afford to watch Thierry Henry, and now he finds himself besides the legend in the flesh, making conversations about possible strategies to become a better player.
Romelu Lukaku has found hope, meaning and purpose from his sufferings.
"See? I told you. Your daughter is OK. No more rats in the apartment. No more sleeping on the floor. No more stress. We’re good now. We’re good." - Romelu Lukaku in The Players Tribune . Read more on FIFA World Cup 2018 by The Quint.BJP-PDP Split: Governor NN Vohra Meets Officers, Security Forces‘I Was Broke, Not Just Poor’: Lukaku On His Triumph Over Suffering . Read more on FIFA World Cup 2018 by The Quint.