Inter striker Romelu Lukaku discussed his first few months at Inter and his relationship with coach Antonio Conte in an interview in today’s paper edition of the Rome based newspaper Corriere dello Sport.
“A good start, yes, it was, so far everything has gone well, but I want to do better and, even if the numbers are good, I know I can improve a lot. My biggest motivation is to help the team and my teammates win the games by scoring. As I have done in these first three months. I’m aiming high, but I’m not forgetting to work.”
He touched on his favourite Nerazzurri goals so far.
“Here in Italy, the one at Brescia. I also liked the 2-0 goal I scored against Milan.”
The 26-year-old Belgian forward revealed he learns something new from every game in Italy.
“The more I go there, the more I find the areas of the pitch where I can be effective. Here are the best defenders and every defence is prepared for any game situation. In every match I learn something new at a tactical level. The same from Conte’s work. If a striker scores so many goals in Italy, he can score them in any other tournament in Europe.”
The former Manchester United forward thinks he’s improved since his arrival in Milan.
“Tactically I’ve grown a lot because in my career I’ve almost always played as the only striker, while now I’ve got great teammates next to me, with them the understanding improves continuously, I just have to memorize the right movements. I can’t improvise or move by listening to my instinct as I did in England, I have to be synchronised with the rest of the team.”
He revealed that he isn’t thinking much about winning the Capocannoniere award.
“Immobile is doing a lot, he’s a great forward and he’s giving Lazio a lot. Things are going well for me, but my personal ambitions must remain personal. I think about the team first.”
Lukaku wasn’t under pressure at Inter despite his high wages.
“If it were to cause me problems, you’d see from my performance. My job is this, to do well on the pitch.”
He spoke about his physical condition when he arrived at Inter in the summer.
“I got injured in the first week of training with Manchester United, skipped the whole training camp and didn’t play a single game on the Asian tour. I ran 40 minutes alone on the pitch and then went back into the locker room. Now I can say I’m 100%, but I’m not stopping.”
Lukaku didn’t expect to become a fan favourite so quickly.
“Not so quickly. It’s important for me to earn the respect not only of the people, but also of my teammates. I asked them to speak to me in Italian and after one to two weeks I spoke the language well. It helped me to listen to my brother’s match interviews, but it helped me above all with my motivation. I’ve always had the desire to play for Inter. I was a great fan of Adriano when he wore this shirt and I was a great fan of Ronaldo too. I think I look like Adriano, he was also big, fast and left-footed. I watched his games with Inter and dreamed of being like him. I remember that he scored an incredible goal against Udinese. I promised myself that if one day I had the opportunity to play in Italy it would only be for Inter.”
The 26-year-old Belgian striker revealed the similarities between Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho.
“Yes, and they are the two best coaches I’ve had. They have the same characteristics even if they use different tactical systems. With both of them, I think I gave my best, because if you don’t, it’s hard with them. I’m really happy for him and I think that with José on the bench in the next two years Tottenham will win something. Maybe this season he’ll bring home one of the two national cups, while the next one will fight to win the Premier. Why is that? Because Mourinho has won everywhere. He’s a top coach, he has very strong players, a fantastic stadium and hot fans. In short, there are the conditions to be satisfied.”
He explained when he realised he wanted to leave Manchester United.
“It was after the game against West Ham at home. After the match against Chelsea on 28 April, the coach called me for a match, and I told him I thought I wanted to leave. He understood my point of view and assured me that he would do everything he could to make me happy. He earned my respect and, until I left Manchester United, there was no problem with him. But the management also helped me.”
Lukaku didn’t feel the pressure of taking over the number nine shirt from Argentine forward Mauro Icardi.
“One hundred and twenty-four goals is a lot, but the comparison with Icardi has not created any problems at all. Mauro did great things for Inter with his goals and when I got here, he was very kind. We talked like colleagues, he welcomed me and was nice to me. I wish him all the best at PSG, and I hope he wins there. But going back to what I said before, I don’t think there’s any pressure to come after him. We are two different strikers. He had his story here and I just started my adventure. I have to keep scoring, work every day, help the team and show that Inter did well to buy me.”
He wasn’t thinking about winning the league title just yet.
“We have to think about one game at a time, one at a time. In Italy in recent years many have said they want to win the championship, but it never happened. That’s why I say, we are only thinking about Torino.”
Lukaku looked ahead to tonight’s match against Torino.
“They’re a really good team and it won’t be easy. We’ll have to face them in the right way because they have two strikers of the value of Zaza and Belotti and it will be necessary to give everything.”
He touched on the Nerazzurri’s work in the Champions League.
“We have to win both of the next two games. It’s the only thing we can and must do.”
Lukaku revealed that he wants to score in the Champions League for the Nerazzurri but is focusing on the win first.
“Yes, I hope so, but now I have to turn my words into deeds. First of all, it’s important to win and get to the next round. It would be important for the club and for us players to reach the round of 16.”
The 26-year-old Belgian touched on the recent incidents of racism in Italian football.
“Racism in the world of football is not something that can be denied. You have to be direct, act hard, as happens in England. There’s a big difference between the field and everyday life here with you, in Milan I’m fine. That’s why you have to be tough.”
He gave his thoughts on how racism should be tackled in Italian football.
“Using cameras in the stadiums is a good starting point. I repeat, we need to identify racists and expel them for life. That’s how they started in England and they’ve solved the problem.”
Finally, Lukaku spoke about his dreams with Inter.
“Now it’s time to work hard, then we’ll see that we win something every season. I don’t want to be unbalanced, you have to put the pieces together, one at a time. At Inter there are no seasons in which you just build. At Inter you have to win, in the end we’ll see where we are, but our ambition must be to win something. Every year.”