“I remember the exact moment,” he said. Romelo Lukaku could still picture the moment he knew his family was broke. ” I can still picture my mum at the refrigerator and the look on her face.” Lukaku was a six-year-old boy at that point, he had come home for his lunch break from school for his milk and bread and he saw his mom at the fridge with a box of milk just like normal, but this time she was mixing something with it. She served the boy his lunch and acted cool about it but the boy knew exactly what was going on, his mother mixed water in the milk. They didn’t have enough money to make it last the whole week. He realized then that they were not just poor, but broke.

19 years ago, this was Lukaku’s life. These days he could fill his bath with money if he wanted to but Lukaku hasn’t forgotten where he came from. After playing for top clubs like Chelsea and Everton, the Belgian goal scoring sensation now plays for Manchester United. His physique was god given. At the age of 11, he was so big and powerful that he used to carry his passport in his kitbag to show the parents and coaches of the rival teams that he wasn’t cheating. He was a natural in front of goal, but there have been millions of more talented striker’s who have never made it, but the pure unadulterated desire drove Lukaku to become the superstar he is today that would haul his parents out of the poverty they suffered. There were many players that were better than him, but none of them had the fire that burned inside him.

He said, “There were times when my mum had to borrow bread from the bakery down the street”. Lukaku knew they were struggling but never did he utter a word about it to his mum, instead he made a promise. ” I knew exactly what I had to do” Lukaku couldn’t see his mother living like that, he just couldn’t.

Every game he played was like a final. He made a promise that he would be an Anderlecht player by the age of 16, he missed it by 11 days but the boy had made it. Lukaku had made it right to the top of his profession.

He scored twice at the World cup on Monday, came running to the camera and said “Mama”. He hasn’t forgotten and the 200k Euros he earns at Manchester United hasn’t erased his memory.

He hasn’t forgotten going to school and nodding when his friends at school spoke about Zidane’s champions league final goal as if he had seen it. He hadn’t. They couldn’t afford a television.

He hasn’t forgotten the rats that roamed his house and his grandfather begging him to look after his daughter in a tearful phone call five days before he passed away.

This is what drives him. This is what might drive him towards the ultimate prize of them all, at least one would hope it does.

“I wish my grandfather was here to witness this… to see the life we have now. Your daughter is OK. No more rats in the apartment, no more sleeping on the floor and they don’t have to check the ID anymore. They know our name.”


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