Labelled a prodigy very early on in his career after topping the Belgian scoring charts at the age of 16, Romelu Lukaku has – while attempting to keep his feet on the ground – since done everything in his power to live up to those high expectations. “It gives me the desire, courage and energy to keep improving,” he has previously stated.
The Antwerp-born forward made his professional debut for Anderlecht in a 2009 league title play-off with Standard Liege. He could not produce miracles that day, instead reserving his magic for the following season, during which his goals enabled Les Mauves et Blancs to reclaim the Belgian Championship.
Alerted to his striking talents, major European clubs began to take an interest in the young phenomenon. However, keen to pursue his footballing apprenticeship and academic studies, he decided to remain with the Brussels outfit.
It was in the summer of 2011 that the rapidly maturing Belgian finally moved abroad, joining Chelsea in a high-profile transfer. While delighted to be training alongside the likes of Didier Drogba, his childhood idol, Lukaku found playing time hard to come by at the London side. Loaned out to West Bromwich Albion and then Everton, he has proceeded to exhibit the same eye for goal that originally helped to make his name.
Having revealed an ambition to become “one of the greatest forwards in the world”, he quickly proved that he was capable of hitting the net on the global stage, notching a brace for Belgium in a friendly match with Russia as a 17-year-old. Almost three years later, he scored his most important international goals to date, bagging a double against Croatia to book Les Diables Rouges' (Red Devils) berth at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.