Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez: “Romelu Lukaku Can Win Ballon D’Or If He Leads Inter To Serie A Title”

January 27, 2021 18:00
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Romelu Lukaku could be a Ballon d’Or contender this year if he leads Inter and Belgium to glory in Serie A and the European Championships, according to his national team coach Roberto Martinez.

Lukaku last night scored his 52nd goal for Inter since joining the club in 2019, converting a second-half penalty to help the Nerazzurri towards a dramatic 2-1 win over AC Milan in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.

Speaking to Italian news outlet, Martinez – who signed Lukaku at Everton before being reunited with him when he took the Belgium job – was asked about whether the 27-year-old could be in contention for European football’s biggest individual prize if he achieved success at club and international level in 2021.

“Yes, sure, even though it is clear that a Belgium manager should never comment on this stuff, because he will always respond in a selfish way, but Romelu is totally capable of getting any individual award,” Martinez assured in the interview.

“His transfer to Inter has really changed the Nerazzurri’s fortunes.

“Today Robert Lewandowski is rightly being praised but Lukaku has certainly been at the top in the last seven months.

“The answer to your question is in the facts, but you shouldn’t ask that question about your players to the Belgian coach precisely because the answer is obvious to me, I am obviously biased.”

Martinez also spoke on Lukaku as a person and if he is surprised to have seen the 27-year-old perform as well as he has done in the last 18 months for Inter.

“It does not surprise me.

“At 16 he was already playing in the first team at Anderlecht.

“He has already experienced two particularly important transfers.

“I have had the opportunity to work with him at the club level and have seen his evolution, Lukaku is one of the best goal scorers in football history.

“He is still very young and these assessments should be made explicitly when an athlete retires but in his case his ability to score has always been seen.

“He has an innate gift, which makes him special.

“Now that he plays in Italy he has developed a new level of maturity.

“The relationship with Inter and with Antonio Conte shows the intensity of wanting to win the Scudetto.

“I remember that when the Nerazzurri did not actually have the right to claim the title, Romelu told me: ‘I’m going to Inter to win Serie A’.

“At that moment it seemed prohibitive and now you can see, from how he ended 2020 and started 2021, how he has taken a step in his career.”

Martinez also touched upon Lukaku and his humbleness as a person.

“His qualities as a human are something precious.

“We are talking about a smart guy, who speaks seven different languages ​​correctly.

“He is curious, otherwise he would not have left his family to get to know the world so young.

“I remember him at Chelsea and then he was a sight to see at West Bromwich Albion.

“Then when I was at Everton we paid the highest fee in the club’s history for him.

“Despite all this, he remains a very genuine person, who knows how to differentiate when he is on the pitch and when he is off it.

“Unfortunately not everyone is like him.

“Romelu is interested in others and tries to create a better community.”

Martinez, who has been at the helm of the Belgian national team since 2016, also commented on Lukaku’s work in the fight against racism in football, something he has unfortunately been subjected to during his career.

“In modern society we need players who can be educators for what is really important.

“He has always done it with respect, without being individualistic, in a bid to have a better world.

“Whether in Italy, Belgium or around Europe, Romelu has always been an example for young people.”

By Cammy Anderson