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Belgians Abroad

Hard working Lukaku is reaping the benefits

Chelsea’s 19-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku is on a fast track to greatness while on loan with West Brom. Here The Belgian Waffle’s own Luke Harvey takes a look at the Belgian youngster and why he’s destined to be great.

Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to English giants Chelsea for reportedly an initial £10 million outlay has begun to bear fruit, albeit not with the club who footed the bill.

Romelu, named so because they are the first two letters of his father’s first, middle and last names – Roger Menama Lukaku – began playing at the age of 6, a decade later he made his Anderlecht debut and only two seasons after that came a high profile move to the English Premier League.

That Chelsea paid £10 million, rising to £17 million, for the Belgian with Congolese roots may have been somewhat controversial. At the age of eighteen he was little known to most of the regular Premier League commentators. The Belgian football fanatics and Football Manager obsessed may well have known all about the striker but for the rest this was a lot of money on a player they hadn’t really heard of.

The fact he came to English shores with an asterisk next to his name that claimed him to be ‘the next Didier Drogba’ probably did little to impress the uneducated masses. Comparing this youngster to one of the best strikers in the game was perhaps a step too far, and despite being in vogue at the time, the rubbish bin is full of discarded tags claiming players to be ‘the next so and so’ and the ‘future this and that’ which are soon forgotten when they didn’t make the grade.

At fifteen he claimed to his mother that within a year he would be playing for a first team. True to his word a year later at sixteen he came on to make his Anderlecht debut. He scored 33 goals in 73 appearances for the Belgian giants but had no illusions at where his future would lie. When asked where he would be at the age of 19 he answered that he would be in the Premier League, and as sure as summer follows spring, Lukaku made it to the promised land as he predicted.

You could mistake his confidence for arrogance but you would be definitely mistaken. Lukaku knows that he has to keep working hard to continue on the path that he is on and has even read Wayne Rooney’s autobiography to find an insight into the thought process of another player who made the step up to a massive team at a young age.

Reportedly staying late after training to practice finishing and free kicks on his own and keen to stay at West Brom for another season to gain more regular football, Lukaku has a clear and concise plan on where he wants to be and how he wants to get there.

He’s already showing that he is worth the money that was spent on him in 2011, even if he isn’t doing that for the team that paid the fee just yet. At West Brom he now has 12 goals in 25 appearances, nearly a goal every two games and at the weekend he scored two goals in a 2-1 win over Sunderland.

With managers around the world playing pass the parcel with the Stamford Bridge hot seat, it will depend on whether Lukaku’s face fits with whoever is in charge at the time as to whether or not he’ll become the “legend” at Chelsea he craves to be.

He will be a success in the Premier League either with Chelsea or without them, so with misfiring Fernando Torres likely on his way out, the ball is in the London club’s court if they want to build their team around this talismanic 19 year old.

About Luke Harvey: A former Sunderland AFC season ticket holder now living down under in Melbourne, Australia. A very biased Simon Mignolet fan who writes about Belgian football when possible after usually waking up at 4am to watch a match. Follow him on Twitter. Now. We all know he needs it.

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