Romelu Lukaku - Biography
Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli is a Belgian professional footballer who now plays for Premier League club Chelsea as well as the Belgium national team.
Lukaku started his professional club career at Anderlecht, when he won the Belgian Pro League and was the league's best goalscorer. In 2011, he joined Chelsea for £10 million (€12 million), but due to restricted playing time, he was loaned to West Bromwich Albion and Everton; in 2014, Lukaku signed with Everton for a then club-record fee of £28 million (€32 million), and went on to finish as the league's second-highest goalscorer.
He later signed for Manchester United in a £75 million (€88 million) transfer, but due to a deterioration in relations with the club, Lukaku left for Inter Milan in 2019 in a club-record deal worth €80 million (£68.1 million), where he won the Serie A title and was named the Serie A Most Valuable Player.
Lukaku returned to Chelsea in a club-record £97.5 million (€115 million) move in 2021, becoming the seventh-most expensive player, the most expensive Belgian player, and the most expensive player in terms of total transfer costs.
Lukaku, Belgium's all-time leading goalscorer, made his senior international debut in 2010, and has represented his country at four major tournaments: the 2016 and 2020 UEFA European Championships, as well as the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, where he finished as joint second-highest goalscorer and won the Bronze Boot.
Lukaku was born to Congolese parents in Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Roger Lukaku, was a professional footballer who represented Zaire at the international level. Jordan, his younger brother, has advanced through the Anderlecht junior system and now plays for Royal Antwerp in Belgium. Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, his cousin, is a Celtic left-sided winger or defender.
Lukaku was the subject of a documentary series called De School Van Lukaku (Lukaku's School), which aired on the Dutch-language Eén network. The reality programme followed Lukaku and his classmates for a year at the Saint-Guidon Institute, a school in Brussels where the player was stationed while with the Anderlecht junior squad.
In 2009, the series accompanied the students on a field trip to London, where they visited Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium. At the moment, Lukaku said, 'What a venue. If I ever weep in my life, it will be on the day I play here. Chelsea is my favourite.' Lukaku is proficient in English, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and a Congolese Swahili dialect, in addition to his native French and Dutch, and he understands German. Didier Drogba was Lukaku's greatest hero, he said.
Lukaku is a devout Roman Catholic who prays often before and after games. In 2014, he made the pilgrimage to Lourdes. He is a teetotaler.
On May 13, 2009, Lukaku turned 16 and signed a professional deal with Anderlecht that would run until 2012. Eleven days later, on May 24, 2009, he made his Belgian First Division debut as a 69th-minute replacement for defender Vctor Bernárdez in the championship play-off match against Standard Liège.
Anderlecht was defeated 1–0. During the 2009–10 season, Lukaku became a regular part of Anderlecht's first squad, scoring his first goal at senior level against Zulte Waregem in the 89th minute after coming in as a replacement for Kanu on August 28, 2009. 'After scoring, I dove into a sea of pleasure,' he told UEFA.com's Berend Scholten.
'You believe you can soar and take on the whole universe.' With 15 goals, he finished the season as the Pro League's leading scorer as Anderlecht won its 30th Belgian championship. He also scored four goals as the team advanced to the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals in 2009–10. Lukaku scored 20 goals in all competitions for Anderlecht during the 2010–11 season, although the club failed to maintain their league championship despite being first in the standings throughout the regular season.
Lukaku signed a five-year deal with Premier League team Chelsea in August 2011 for a price believed to be about €12 million (£10 million), with add-ons worth up to €20 million (£17 million).
Lukaku made his Stamford Bridge debut in the 83rd minute as a replacement for Fernando Torres in a 3–1 win against Norwich City. Lukaku debuted for Chelsea in the League Cup against Fulham. Chelsea eventually won the game on penalties.
He spent the most of the season with the reserves until making his Premier League debut on 13 May 2012 against Blackburn Rovers, when he was named man of the match after assisting John Terry's opening. However, Lukaku expressed his dissatisfaction with his role towards the conclusion of his first season, admitting that after his club's UEFA Champions League final victory on May 19, he declined to touch the trophy, saying that 'it wasn't me, but my team who won.'
Following rumours connecting Lukaku to a loan transfer to Fulham, he joined West Bromwich Albion on a season-long loan on August 10, 2012. Eight days later, he scored his first league goal, coming in as a substitute in the 77th minute of a 3–0 victory over Liverpool. He scored the game's lone goal on his entire debut against Reading at The Hawthorns.
Lukaku came in as a 70th-minute replacement for Shane Long and scored a penalty and assisted Marc-Antoine Fortuné as West Brom beat Sunderland 4–2 away at the Stadium of Light on November 24. For the first time since 1980, West Bromwich Albion won four straight Premier League games. On January 12, 2013, Lukaku scored his first Premier League goal, putting West Brom up 2–0 against Reading until a late comeback handed the Berkshire team a 3–2 win at the Madejski Stadium.
In the face of reports that he intended to remain at West Brom for another year, Lukaku told the press that he still wanted to become a Stamford Bridge icon. Lukaku came in as a substitute against Liverpool on 11 February and scored his tenth Premier League goal of the season in a 2–0 victory.
Lukaku joined Everton on a season-long loan on the last day of the summer 2013 transfer window. On 21 September 2013, he made his debut for the Toffees against West Ham United, scoring the game-winning goal in a 3–2 victory for Everton. During the header, he collided with a West Ham defender and was helped off the field for treatment. The physio had to inform him that he had scored the game-winning goal.
He scored twice and assisted Ross Barkley's goal on his home debut nine days later, in a 3–2 victory against Newcastle United. In the next encounter, he started the scoring in a 3–1 loss against Manchester City. He maintained his strong start with the club by scoring the opening goal in a 2–0 victory against Aston Villa, and then scored twice in the first Merseyside derby of the season as Everton drew 3–3 against Liverpool, with Lukaku afterwards saying it was the greatest experience he had in his brief career.
Lukaku was named one of the ten most promising young players in Europe by The Guardian in January 2014, but he was taken off on a stretcher later that month with ankle ligament damage after Gareth Barry slipped and slid into him as he attempted to block Steven Gerrard's opening goal in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool. Lukaku made his comeback from injury against West Ham United in March 2014, netting the game's lone goal in the 81st minute after coming on as a second-half replacement.
On April 6, he scored one goal and assisted on another as Everton defeated Arsenal 3–0 at Goodison Park to earn their sixth straight Premier League victory. His last loan goal came on the penultimate day of the season, when he scored the second in a 2–0 victory against Hull City. Lukaku scored 15 goals in 31 league games to help Everton finish fifth with a club record 72 Premier League points.
In July 2014, Lukaku agreed to a five-year deal with Everton for a club record price of £28 million. On September 13, he scored his first goal as a permanent player against his old team West Brom. Lukaku did not celebrate the goal, and the West Brom supporters praised him for his gesture of respect. Lukaku earned his first Everton hat-trick on February 19, 2015, in a 4–1 victory against BSC Young Boys in the UEFA Europa League last 32; he scored with a header, a right-foot shot, and a left-foot strike.
He scored two more goals in a 3–1 victory in the second leg a week later. He was the tournament's equal top scorer that season, along with Alan of Red Bull Salzburg, with eight goals.
Lukaku scored his 20th goal of the season in a 3–0 win against Stoke City on February 6, 2016, making him the first Everton player since Graeme Sharp to score at least 20 goals in all competitions in consecutive seasons for Everton. The score was also his 16th league goal of the season, tying Tony Cottee and Andrei Kanchelskis' mid-90s Premier League goal scoring record for Everton.
Lukaku scored his 21st goal of the season in a 2–0 win against AFC Bournemouth's Dean Court. This win advanced Everton to the FA Cup quarter-finals and matched Yakubu's total of goals scored in all competitions for Everton in the 2007–08 season, the previous best in the Premier League era.
Lukaku scored his 17th league goal of the season in a 3–1 win against Aston Villa at Villa Park on March 1, setting a Premier League-era record for Everton. The goal also equaled Lukaku's previous highest goal return in a league season, achieved during his loan stint at West Brom in 2012–13.
Lukaku scored his first goals of the 2016–17 season in a 3–0 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on September 12, 2016. His hat-trick was completed in 11 minutes and 37 seconds, making it the 12th-fastest in Premier League history. Lukaku scored four goals against Bournemouth in a 6–3 win at Goodison Park on February 4, 2017, the first of which was Everton's quickest ever Premier League goal.
It was also the Premier League's 300th hat-trick. On February 25, 2017, he equaled Duncan Ferguson's club record of 60 Premier League goals for Everton in a 2–0 win against Sunderland at Goodison Park. On 5 March, he overtook Ferguson to become the all-time leading scorer, scoring in a 3–2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
Lukaku scored in the next match, a 3–0 home victory against West Brom, to become the first Everton player since Bob Latchford to score 20 or more goals in all competitions for three straight seasons. A week later, in a 4–0 win against Hull City, he scored twice to bring his league goal total to 21 for the season, becoming the first Everton player since Gary Lineker 31 years earlier to do so, as well as the fourth and first foreign player to score 80 Premier League goals before the age of 24.
Lukaku rejected down a new five-year deal for an estimated £140,000 per week in March 2017, amid rumours of a return to Chelsea. In an interview, he questioned the club's desire to make major signings and qualify for the Champions League, which irritated his manager, Ronald Koeman.
Lukaku became the first Everton player since Bob Latchford to score 25 goals in two successive seasons in all competitions with a goal against Burnley on 15 April, and the first player since the great Dixie Dean to score in nine consecutive matches at Goodison Park. Lukaku was selected to the PFA Team of the Year for the first time on April 20, 2017. He was also one of six players included to the PFA Players' Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year shortlists.
Lukaku joined Manchester United on July 10, 2017, signing a five-year contract extension option. Although the price was not revealed officially, it was believed to be for an initial £75 million plus an additional £15 million in add-ons. As a result, he joined the squad with his French-speaking close buddy Paul Pogba. Lukaku's signing came a day after former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney departed the club to rejoin his home club, Everton.
Lukaku made his debut against Real Madrid in the 2017 UEFA Super Cup on August 8, scoring his first competitive goal for the club in a 2–1 loss. Five days later, he made his league debut against West Ham at home. Lukaku scored twice in a 4–0 victory, becoming the fourth Manchester United player to do so in his Premier League debut. In a 3–0 victory against FC Basel on September 12, he scored his first UEFA Champions League goal.
Lukaku scored United's third goal in a 4–0 victory against his old club Everton on September 17, with Lukaku going up to Everton fans and cupping his ears during his goal celebration in retaliation to being booed throughout the game. Lukaku scored twice in a 4–1 victory against CSKA Moscow on September 27, bringing his total to 10 goals in his first nine outings. In doing so, he broke Bobby Charlton's record of nine goals in his first nine games for the club.
On February 25, 2018, Lukaku scored the equaliser and then assisted Jesse Lingard's game-winning goal in a 2–1 victory against his old club Chelsea. On 13 March, he scored his 200th goal for club and country in a 2–1 away loss to Sevilla, which knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League in the round of 16. Lukaku opened the scoring in a 2–0 home victory against Swansea on March 31, 2018. It was his 100th Premier League goal in his 216th game, making him the sixth youngest of the 28 players to achieve the feat.
Lukaku began the 2018–19 season with four goals in his first five games, including a brace against Burnley, before going on a 12-game drought that lasted from September 19 to November 27, 2018. Lukaku scored against Southampton and Fulham before Jose Mourinho was fired, only for Mourinho's successor – former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjr - to keep him out of the team completely for his first two games in charge against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town.
Lukaku came in as a substitute in United's next two games against Bournemouth and Newcastle United, scoring in both games within two minutes of entering the game. He subsequently played the whole 90 minutes of Reading's FA Cup third-round match, scoring the game's second goal in a 2–0 victory. However, Solskjr continued to favour Marcus Rashford to start up front, and Lukaku only started five of the following nine games, playing the full 90 minutes in just two of them and failing to score in any of them.
His scoring form resurfaced in the next three games, with braces against Crystal Palace, Southampton, and Paris Saint-Germain. The goals against PSG were part of a 3–1 victory that advanced United to the Champions League quarter-finals on the away goals rule, the first time any club has progressed despite losing by two goals or more at home in the first leg. United, on the other hand, were knocked out in the quarterfinals by Barcelona, 4–0 on aggregate.
On August 8, 2019, Lukaku signed a five-year deal with Italian club Inter Milan for a rumoured club record price of €80 million. Later, he explained why he left Manchester United, saying that he was made a scapegoat with other players such as Paul Pogba and Alexis Sánchez, as well as the club's inability to shield him from rumours regarding his future. Lukaku made his Inter Milan debut against Lecce on August 26th, scoring the third goal with his first shot in a 4–0 home victory.
Lukaku now has goals in his debut league games for five of the six teams he has played for: Anderlecht, West Bromwich Albion, Everton, Manchester United, and Inter; he is also just the third Belgian to score for Inter in Serie A, after Enzo Scifo and Radja Nainggolan. Lukaku scored the game-winning penalty from the spot in Inter's second league game of the season against Cagliari on 1 September, giving the team a 2–1 away victory; nevertheless, he was subjected to racist insults from certain Cagliari supporters.
On January 6, he began the new year with a brace in a 3–1 victory against Napoli, giving Inter its first league win at Stadio San Paolo since October 1997; he received acclaim from the media for his first goal, which came from an individual effort, scored in the 14th minute. On 9 February, Lukaku scored the game-winning goal in Inter's 4–2 home victory over cross-town rivals Milan, propelling Inter to the top of the table and completing a hat-trick against Milan; it was also his 17th league goal of the season.
Lukaku scored twice in the opening match of the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, a 2–2 tie against Borussia Mönchengladbach on October 21, 2020. He scored another brace against Borussia Mönchengladbach on December 1st, securing a 3–2 away victory. However, Inter drew their last match against Shakhtar Donetsk, dropping them to last place in their group and out of all European tournaments.
Lukaku scored in a 6–2 victory against Crotone on January 3, 2021, to achieve his 50th goal in all competitions in just 70 appearances, surpassing Ronaldo's previous record of 50 goals in 77 matches. In Inter's Coppa Italia quarter-final encounter against Milan on January 26, Lukaku collided with former Manchester United colleague Zlatan Ibrahimovi.
Following a foul by Lukaku late in the first half, the two could be heard trading obscenities as they collided heads and had to be held by their respective teams. At halftime, both players were booked after their confrontations continued into the tunnel. Ibrahimovi was sent off during the second half after receiving a second yellow card for a tackle on Aleksandar Kolarov, as Inter won 2–1.
On 14 February, he scored a brace and assisted in a 3–1 win against Lazio, increasing his Serie A total to 16 goals for the season, tying him with Cristiano Ronaldo as the league's top scorer. Lukaku's second goal was also his 300th professional goal. Inter won Serie A for the first time since the 2009–10 season in 2020–21. Lukaku has 24 league goals and 11 assists in 2020–21. Making him the title-winning team's leading scorer and the league's second-leading scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Phase II of Chelsea
Lukaku returned to Chelsea for a rumoured club record price of £97.5 million on August 12, 2021, a decade after he first joined the club. With the deal, Lukaku surpassed Neymar as the most expensive player in history, with a total transfer price of almost £285 million.
In an interview, Lukaku confessed that he had asked Inter Milan to strike a deal with Chelsea, saying, 'I didn't want to speak to Inter behind their back. They rescued me from the muck. At Manchester United, I was in a big hole. I visited Inzaghi's office after training. I didn't want to spoil the mood since I wasn't in Milan with my mind. As a result, I requested that he find a solution.'
In a 2–0 away victory against Arsenal on August 22, 2021, Lukaku scored on his comeback debut in the 15th minute, converting Reece James' cross. Lukaku scored twice against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on September 12th, his debut goals at the club.
Lukaku played for Belgium's under-21 squad, when he scored his first goal against Slovenia. Lukaku was selected to Belgium's senior team for the first time for a friendly against Croatia on February 24, 2010. In a friendly against Russia on November 17, 2010, he scored his first two goals for his country. On August 15, 2012, Lukaku scored his first goal for the national team in almost two years, scoring the game-winning goal in a 4–2 friendly triumph against rivals the Netherlands.
Lukaku scored a consolation goal in a 2–1 defeat away to Portugal on March 29, 2016, with help from his brother, Jordan Lukaku. Lukaku scored twice in Belgium's 3–0 victory against the Republic of Ireland in the second group stage match on June 18, 2016 at UEFA Euro 2016.
Lukaku equaled Bernard Voorhoof and Paul Van Himst's all-time Belgian goalscoring record on November 10, 2017, when he scored twice against Mexico in a 3–3 tie. Lukaku became Belgium's all-time leading goalscorer with 31 international goals at the age of 24 after scoring the game-winning goal in a 1–0 victory against Japan four days after tying the record.
Although this record was counted by the Royal Belgian Football Association, FIFA only officially recognised 28 goals after a nullified international friendly against Luxembourg on May 26, 2014, in which he netted a hat trick in a 5–1 win because the former Belgium coach, Marc Wilmots, made seven substitutions during the match instead of the permitted six, which is not in accordance with the Laws of the Game.
Lukaku scored twice in a 3–0 victory against Panama in the 2018 FIFA World Cup's first group game on June 18. On June 23, 2018, he scored twice more in a 5–2 victory against Tunisia in the following group game. Lukaku therefore became the first player since Diego Maradona in 1986 to score two or more goals in successive World Cup matches. He completed the tournament with four goals and one assist, earning him the Bronze Boot as Belgium placed third.
Lukaku scored his 50th and 51st international goals against San Marino in a 9–0 home victory in a Euro 2020 qualifier on October 10, 2019. Lukaku scored twice in Belgium's 3–0 victory against Russia in their first UEFA Euro 2020 group encounter on June 12, 2021. He scored the game-winning goal in his team's last group encounter against Finland on June 21.
On 2 July, he scored Belgium's lone goal of the game, a penalty late in the first half, in a 2–1 loss to Italy in the competition's quarter-finals. Lukaku was named to the UEFA Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament two days after the final. He was selected as the striker.
Style of Play
Lukaku is a left-footed footballer who was rated one of the ten most promising young players in Europe by The Guardian in 2014. Lukaku, a big and physically strong striker with an eye for goal from an early age, has been known to utilise his strength to go past defenders. However, despite his height, power, muscular frame, and ability to hold up play with his back to goal, his preferred position is as an out-and-out striker or poacher; owing to his tactical flexibility, he can also play as a winger.
Beyond his physical qualities and goalscoring ability, he is a well-rounded forward with pace, athleticism, awareness, good link-up play, technical attributes, and vision, as well as the ability to get into good attacking positions or create space for teammates with his intelligent runs off the ball.
Although he was previously chastised by critics for his minimal defensive impact, his managers have subsequently complimented him for his work-rate off the ball. Despite his talent, he has been chastised in the media on occasion for his movement, first touch, finishing, and general consistency.
Lukaku became the first Premier League player to sign with Jay-management Z's company, Roc Nation Sports. He secured a record sponsorship agreement with German sportswear brand Puma in 2018, the business's biggest endorsement deal ever.
While George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in America in 2020, Lukaku honoured him by bowing and keeping one hand up when scoring for Inter against Sampdoria. This is in favour of the anti-racism Black Lives Matter campaign. This symbolic gesture was inspired by Colin Kaepernick, an American football player who kneeled during the national anthem before every game in 2016 as a peaceful protest against police brutality against people of colour.
Lukaku, like many other European players, has taken an active part in taking a knee on the field alongside his teammates before every game. The local populace has conflicting feelings about it at times.
Later, Lukaku emphasised that he is against 'all kinds of prejudice, whether religious, based on skin colour, or sexual.'
Honours & Awards
2020 IFFHS World's Best International Goal Scorer
Belgian Promising Talent of the Year: 2009
2009 Belgian Bronze Shoe
Belgian Silver Shoe: 2010 Everton Ebony Shoe: 2011 2015–16 Young Player of the Year
2016–17 Everton Player of the Season
2018 Italian Football Hall of Fame (Davide Astori Fair Play Award): 2019 Premio Internazionale 2020 Giacinto Facchetti
Belgians Abroad's Favorite: 2020
2020–21 Serie A Most Valuable Player