Romelu Lukaku has been destroying opposition defences ever since he was 7 years old, according to the Inter striker’s first ever football coach.
Lukaku has become a key figure for the Nerazzurri since his club-record move from Manchester United in 2019, scoring 57 goals in 81 appearances for Antonio Conte’s side.
He began his career with Belgian amateur side Rupel Boom under the watchful eye of Erwin Wosky, and it didn’t take long for Lukaku to make an impression on his peers.
“One day this 7-year-old boy who everyone called Romelì showed up for training,” Wosky recalled in an interview for Thursday’s print edition of Tuttosport.
“Even back then, he had impressive size and made the difference on the pitch.
“When I later heard on television that they were calling him Romelu, I thought it was an error, but it wasn’t them who were getting his name wrong.
“I guess he never wanted to correct me out of courtesy and politeness.
“Romelu is a gentle giant.
“He wanted to become a professional like his father Roger.
“For me he was one of the many boys whom I should have taught something, but his talents on the field were indisputable.
“His opponents were always complaining about his physical strength, perhaps they thought he was older than he claimed, he was decisive.
“Sometimes I had to start him on the bench because he arrived late, his Dad’s car wasn’t always reliable.
“But he’d come on and score a hatful of goals; three, four, five, perhaps even six…
“He never contested my decisions, he always had respect for his teammates.
“But he’d look at me, smile and say: ‘Can I come on coach? I’m ready!’
“Then a few seconds would pass and he’d ask: ‘And now, can I go on now?’
“What great memories…”
Wosky was overjoyed last month when Lukaku mentioned him after receiving an award for being Belgian’s best footballer abroad in 2020.
“I saw Romelu say to Conte: ‘That’s my first coach!’
“I am proud of him and the path he has taken.
“In those 30 seconds that went on air also on television I told him: ‘A long time ago I was taller than you, now everything is different, but you continue to prove yourself to be a great man in everything you do.'”
Next Wosky was asked whether he expected Lukaku to make the impact that he has in Serie A, with him having scored an impressive 40 goals in 58 league outings for the club.
“Did I expect him to make this impact? Yes, he learned Italian very quickly,” he noted.
“I’m sure he wants to go down in the history books of Inter.
“I hope he can finish as Serie A’s top scorer this season and reach at least 25-30 goals in the league.”
Wosky also claimed that Lukaku has what it takes to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, which recognises the best player in the world each year.
“Can he win the Ballon d’Or? Definitely, enough with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo!
“Last year the prize would have been awarded to Robert Lewandowski and in the previous editions of the award, Lukaku deserved a better placing.
“If Inter win the league, and Belgium win the European Championships, Romelu could have a better chance of winning the prestigious individual recognition.”
In conclusion Wosky spoke on his former player’s recent dispute with AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Coppa Italia.
“For Romelu, his mother has always been, rightly, untouchable,” Wosky revealed.
“She is a sort of goddess to him.
“If you say something disrespectful about her towards him, he will get very angry, she means a lot to her loving son.
“So if Ibra told him something about his mother, I understand why he was angry.
“But then Lukaku gave the best answer with his performance in the league, he scored and Inter beat AC Milan, that’s how it’s done.
“Did I think he could get so angry? I only know that he is a decent young man, with deep-rooted values, who puts his family above everything.”
Lukaku will be looking to add to his impressive goal-scoring tally tomorrow when Inter welcome in-form Genoa to San Siro.