- The 24-year-old footballer narrates how he has had to overcome poverty and racism to make it this far
- Lukaku is currently at Russia 2018 with Belgium and has already bagged two goals in their first game
In a write-up for The Players' Tribune, Romelu Lukaku speaks of the challenges he faced growing up and deciding to play football. The article touches on his family, his love for the game, financial difficulty and racism.
At Russia 2018, the 24-year-old is leading the line for Belgium. But in his revelations, the journey this far has been as difficult as possible.
Born some 24 years ago in Antwerp, Belgium, Lukaku was raised by his mother and father who are originally from Congo DR. The striker writes about the unavoidable poverty that he recognised by the time he was 6.
"I remember the exact moment I knew we were broke. I can still picture my mum at the refrigerator and the look on her face.", Lukaku explains.
"... one day I came home, and I walked into the kitchen, and I saw my mum at the refrigerator with the box of milk, like normal. But this time she was mixing something in with it. She was shaking it all up, you know? I didn’t understand what was going on. Then she brought my lunch over to me, and she was smiling like everything was cool. But I realized right away what was going on."
The Manchester United forward details how he made up his mind at an early age that football was going to get the family out of poverty.
He also spoke about the racism he endured and how he makes sense of it looking back now.
"When things were going well, I was reading newspapers articles and they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker."
"When things weren’t going well, they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker of Congolese descent."
Lukaku says he felt that his experiences growing up in Antwerp and other Belgian cities would help people understand he thought of himself as Belgian. However, the reality was far from the hope.
Lukaku ended the 2017/2018 season as Manchester United's top scorer with 27 goals. He has gone ahead to become Belgium's all-time top scorer and scored two more goals at the Mundial.
The striker lamented that his one biggest wish was not having his grandfather alive to see him now.
He remarked about what he wished he could tell his mother's father: “See? I told you. Your daughter is OK. No more rats in the apartment.
"No more sleeping on the floor. No more stress. We’re good now. We’re good …"
"… They don’t have to check the I.D. any more. They know our name."
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