Romelu Lukaku, fresh off the 2018 FIFA World Cup, breaks down what it takes to make it to the top tier of soccer. He attributes his success to the mental strength he developed at a young age. Growing up in a family with limited financial means drove him to be strong for his mother and achieve his goal.
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Following is a transcript of the video:
Romelu Lukaku: I was just like a man on a mission since I was six. I think everybody’s born with a talent. It’s about you to discover what your talent is and then try to master it. And for me it was scoring. I just knew, okay, I’m a scorer. I can shoot with my left and my right and with my head when I was like eight or nine. That was, for me, it was like just finding a way how to master it, how to score in different type of ways. I mean, that’s what got me here.
I never did like the running part because I’m not a good long distance runner. I’m more like a sprinter, but I would just go take a ball and I would go to the soccer pitch that was two miles away from my house. I would walk there with three or four balls in my hands. And then shoot. All day. Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. Try to score as much as I can.
So basically as soon as we started training camp I cut off all my social media. Also my phone, I had another phone. People couldn’t really get in touch with me. You start reading books or watching Netflix. That was really my thing, watching Netflix, reading books, playing Xbox. I watched “How to Get Away with Murder.” Playing cards with my teammates, going to the gym a bit more. Four weeks, you just need to prepare to try to be in maximum shape.
When I was five there was the World Cup 98 going on. In Belgium at the time, we could always start soccer from six years old. So, basically what my dad did, he recorded all the goals that were scored and he would play the videos every other day. And I would watch it with my brother over and over and over again. At one point you start memorizing the actions and the goals. So, basically I would watch Ronaldo the Brazilian for years and then when I was six I played for my first team which was called Ropel Boom. It’s a team in the neighborhood where I grew up.
Fairly quickly I realized that my family was in poverty because obviously I saw my mom mixing water with milk one day for breakfast. Then when you start realizing that, you try to find a way how to to become successful but at a really fast age. Because, with soccer I knew that I was fairly good and I could score easily. I thought like, when I was six I said to my mom listen, this is gonna be it, this is how we’re gonna make it. At 16 you can play and then everything’s gonna start from there.
Even though our financial situation didn’t improve I still kept the same hunger inside because I didn’t want those situations to happen ever again. Sometimes you will go through humiliating moments but I would say sometimes when you go through those times, it makes you stronger at the other end. It was a negative but it ended up as a positive.
My dad was not the type of guy being on the sidelines screaming at the refs and stuff like that. My dad would tell me when I would play well. My dad would tell me when it wasn’t that well but he would always try to add a positive so I could improve on the next game. It was always about positive coaching. Always being positive and stuff like that, that’s what really molded me.
The stuff I can do now for my family and for my country back in Africa, it’s amazing. That’s for me the best thing. Helping my family out, that was the number one thing. Everybody’s good now. I can – also if, if I have kids in the future they will grow up in better circumstances than I did. I’m the type of guy that I love the game and I love whatever that comes with it, but it’s not gonna bother my sleep or anything. Because I know there are stuff in life that are really much more worse than that.