How a 50-50 with Ibra changed it all for Lukaku

Friday 22 March 2019 07:00

Romelu Lukaku has revealed how a 50/50 challenge with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in training taught him everything that he needed to know about the Swedish goalscoring legend.

Ibra, as he is affectionately known, called time on his Manchester United career one year ago today to start his American adventure with Major League Soccer outfit Los Angeles Galaxy. 

That decision was partly inspired by the realisation that he could no longer perform, week in and week out, as he desired at Old Trafford, following the frustrating period of injury that blighted his second season as a Red. 

Everybody is pleased see Zlatan playing so well in the USA and Lukaku is among those in the current United squad who are still benefiting from the wisdom that the giant centre-forward shared.
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While answering questions submitted by fans on social media, Lukaku was asked what he learned from Ibra, and the Belgian’s mind wandered back to one particularly competitive training match.  

“Everything I learned from Zlatan was great, from his stories that he told me when he was at Inter, AC Milan, Barcelona and even Ajax, to being on the field working with him, seeing how competitive he was,” explained Lukaku, in a video first published on Thursday afternoon. 

“I remember one training session,” Lukaku continued. “Because we were both strikers, we were never on the same team and, at one point, there was a 50/50 challenge. He went full-on against me! 

“That is when I knew this guy wants to compete and this guy wants to fight for his spot. That is why he changed me. It was an eye-opener. The guy had to fight to be in the position he is in. 

“So, I learned just to focus, work hard and enjoy it as well. Because he is a guy who you can have a lot fun with as well and having his personality in the dressing room was good.”

The big man was an instant hit during his first season in MLS, beginning with a bang by scoring twice in the inaugural Los Angeles derby – one of which was an acrobatic strike that stunned the world.

He went on to score 22 goals in 27 appearances that campaign, earning a place in the coveted All-Star team that played a one-off exhibition match against his former club Juventus. Unfortunately, his efforts did not drive the Galaxy into the play-off, as they finished seventh in the Western Conference.

In the new season, Zlatan has made one appearance so far and scored in a 2-1 home win over Bastian Schweinsteiger's Chicago Fire. 
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