“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
Romelu Lukaku is a professional football player who plays for Manchester United and the Belgium national team.
Born in Antwerp, Romelu Lukaku’s family is of Congolese descent. His father was a professional football player too but his career ended early. That meant that the family had very little money to make ends meet.
Lukaku recently wrote an article entitled ‘I’ve got some things to say’, in The Players’ Tribune. He shares with us an incident that became the turning point in his life and made him determined to achieve his dream of playing football for Anderlecht.
He was 6 years old, and had come home from school for lunch break. He remembers his mother smiling and mixing something in the milk carton, and he was served his lunch of bread and milk, mixed with water. Even at that young age, he was able to accept the reality – they were poor and broke. To save money they had to cut off their cable connection which meant no more watching football matches, there would be no electricity for 2 to 3 weeks, no ‘hot water’ to bathe in, rats running about in their apartment, and sometimes, his mother had to borrow bread from the local bakery to feed him and his little brother.
All these hardships did not deter Lukaku. Instead they made him even more determined to achieve his dream. Every game he played, whether in the school or in the neighbourhood park, he played it like it was a final game. In his words, “I wanted to be the best footballer in Belgian history. That was my goal. Not good. Not great. The best.”
Through his career, from school until he earned his spot on the national team, Lukaku has had to face different hurdles. Like when parents of other children wanted to check his ID before school games or asked where he was from. The racism he faced from local media was intense. If he played well he was the Belgian striker but if he had a bad game then he was labelled as the Belgian striker of Congolese descent.
Romelu Lukaku started playing professional football at the age of 16, just as he had promised himself he would, as that was the youngest age that qualified. He had promised his grandfather that he would take care of his mother, and he was driven to succeed for himself and to honour his word. He is now 25, and is the fifth youngest player to have scored 100 goals in a competition. At the international level, he holds the all-time record of 40 goals scored for the Belgian national team.
Unfortunately Belgium lost the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup to France last night. But Lukaku has shushed his critics with his 4 goals and great game at the tournament. As he says, “… They don’t have to check the I.D. any more. They know our name.”
Romelu Lukaku’s story has been adapted from – https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/romelu-lukaku-ive-got-some-things-to-say
Written by: Preetika Soni. Preetika is a freelance content writer and transcriptionist. Her interests are photography, crochet, and finding answers for her 3 year old son’s ‘But Why’ questions.