- Manchester United and Belgian national team star Romelu Lukaku became interested in soccer when he was five years old after watching tapes of the 1998 World Cup that his dad recorded.
- Lukaku told Business Insider he watched the videos of the goals scored over and over, eventually memorizing the goals and the actions.
- When Lukaku was six, he realized his family was poor and became determined to go pro to support his family.
Manchester United and Belgian national team star striker Romelu Lukaku decided he was going to play professional soccer when he was six years old.
As Lukaku detailed in his Players’ Tribune story, Lukaku saw his mother mixing water with milk to make the milk last longer. He realized then that his family was poor and he needed to get them out of the situation.
“When you start really realizing that, you try to find a way to become successful, but at a really fast age,” the 25-year-old Lukaku told Business Insider.
“Because with soccer I knew that I was fairly good and could score easily.”
Lukaku’s father, Roger, was a professional soccer player in Belgium and Turkey. According to Romelu, he grew interested in soccer in 1998, when he was five when his dad recorded every goal scored from the 1998 World Cup. Romelu and his brother watched the tape religiously, eventually memorizing the goals and the actions that set them up.
“You would play the videos every other day, and I would watch it with my brother over and over and over again,” Lukaku said. “So, at one point you start memorizing the actions and the goals.
“I would watch, I would watch [Ronaldinho], the Brazilian, for, like, years.”
Lukaku said he would walk to a local soccer field two miles from his house, carrying three or four balls in his arms. There, he would practice shooting with both feet and eventually with his head. Lukaku said his father would occasionally watch him practice and play, but offered little in the way of criticism, often supporting Lukaku but leaving Lukaku to learn himself.
Lukaku has since become one of the most dangerous scorers in the world. He’s one of five players to ever score 50 goals in the Premier League by the time he was 23, accomplishing the feat when he was with Everton. In the 2017-18 season with Manchester United, he scored 16 goals, sixth-most in the Premier League. Over two World Cups, Lukaku has five goals, including four in the 2018 Cup.
“When I was six I said to my mom like, ‘Listen, this is going to be, this is how we’re going to make it. At 16 you can play [professionally], and then everything’s going to start from there,” Lukaku said, adding: “I was just like a man on a mission since I was six, you know? 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.”