Romelu Lukaku was long touted to achieve superstardom, ever since breaking into Anderlecht’s first team 11 days past his 16th birthday.
A son of former Zaire international Roger Lukaku, Romelu was born into football and he has matured into a bona fide goal machine, guaranteeing a lethal combination of strikes with head and both feet in the Premier League.
An explosive force in attack, the then teenager boasted a record of 41 goals in 98 outings for Anderlecht before he left the Belgian giants to join Chelsea in August 2011. Despite initially struggling to break into the first team at Stamford Bridge, a successful season-long loan spell at West Bromwich Albion in 2012/13 proved his quality in the Premier League. In his final game at The Hawthorns, he scored a hat-trick against United in the incredible 5-5 draw between West Brom and United that marked Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match as manager.
The following season he was loaned to Everton, where he scored 15 goals in 31 league games, and helped the Toffees finish fifth. What followed was a statement of intent from the Merseysiders as they broke their then transfer record to make the Belgium international a permanent signing in July 2014.
The goals kept coming for Lukaku as he matured and became almost unplayable at times due to his powerful physique and impressive acceleration. In each of his three campaigns as a permanent Everton player, he netted 20-plus goals across all competitions, and in 2016/17 he netted 25 Premier League goals alone.
During his fruitful spell on Merseyside he matched legendary striker Dixie Dean’s record of scoring in nine consecutive matches at Goodison Park, and even beat Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a place in the PFA Team of the Year in 2016/17, though he missed out on the Golden Boot due to Harry Kane’s purple patch towards the end of the campaign.
His life as United’s latest line-leading no.9 couldn’t have got off to a better start, scoring on his official debut against Champions League winners Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in August and going from strength to strength after that. He netted a double on his home debut against West Ham and went on a remarkable scoring run in September, scoring seven goals in six consecutive matches.
Lukaku became the youngest foreign player to reach 100 Premier League goals in March after scoring against Swansea, and was duly named the fans’ Player of the Month. Rom also ridiculed any suggestions that he was not a man for the most pressurised moments, scoring the equaliser against Chelsea and a vital leveller at Crystal Palace, before spearheading the Reds’ attack in the FA Cup semi-final triumph over Spurs with an inspirational passion and determination.
A frustrating injury, suffered in the win over Arsenal in April, scuppered his chances of becoming only the fourth player to break the 30-goal barrier in a first season at United, but Lukaku can be enormously satisfied with his first 12 months in Red. As much as anyone, the striker was the powering force behind the team’s best league campaign since the title-winning 2012/13 season.