Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has today opened up on some of the difficulties that he endured during a spell with Chelsea early in the Belgian’s career.
Lukaku’s struggles in London
After exploding onto the scene as a prolific teen with boyhood club Anderlecht, Lukaku was eventually snapped up by Chelsea in the summer of 2011.
The Blues are thought to have beaten off stiff competition to secure the powerful hitman’s signature, with Lukaku having been widely-viewed as the long-term replacement for Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge.
The years that followed, though, saw Lukaku struggle to make any sort of meaningful impact at Chelsea, culminating in a pair of loan stints away from the club.
As such, after just 10 Premier League appearances in the colours of the Londoners, it came as little surprise when Chelsea opted to move their out-of-favour attacker on.
Following a successful loan spell at Goodison Park, Everton snapped up Lukaku in the summer of 2014, for a fee in the region of £28 million.
‘Didn’t win the trophy myself’
As outlined above, though, Lukaku did in fact spend one season as part of Chelsea’s first-team squad.
This came in the 2011-12 campaign, the Belgian international’s first in English football.
A somewhat bizarre term for the Blues eventually culminated in Champions League glory, as caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo guided the club to their maiden title on Europe’s grandest stage.
Lukaku, however, was left off of Chelsea’s Champions League squad list by previous manager André Villas-Boas, meaning the now 27-year-old played no part in the business end of the Pensioners’ European campaign.
And, as outlined above, this was one of a number of topics which Lukaku went on to discuss during a detailed interview earlier today.
Speaking to HLN in his native Belgium, the Inter Milan star first revealed that Roberto Di Matteo did in fact make a concerted effort to make him feel part of Chelsea’s triumphant squad:
‘Di Matteo told me that I would stay with the group until after the final. He thought everyone should come along, including the ones who were suspended and the few boys who were not in the Champions League squad. I am also grateful to him for that.’
‘This win is one of the things I’ve always dreamed about. You want to celebrate something like that with the team at that time. That is nice in itself at the age of 19.’
However, Lukaku subsequently went on to admit that, due to his lack of involvement, he never felt deserving of laying a hand on the Champions League trophy:
‘I didn’t touch it with a finger. Because I didn’t win this trophy myself.’
‘This has been the case since I was 11: if I have not contributed anything, it is not my trophy. Only if you have contributed to a cup or a title yourself, you can also show it off.’
Finally, the former Manchester United attacker took aim at André Villas-Boas, going as far as to state that he will ‘never forgive’ the Portuguese tactician for his European snub 8 years ago:
‘I am happy for the whole club, but there is one man who took a lot from me: the previous trainer (Villas-Boas). I will never forgive him for that.’
‘Once I had to play in the front left, another time in the front right. You don’t develop that way.’
‘Then at some point you have to think about yourself. So I told the club what I thought of it. I know Villas-Boas was also under pressure, but that’s why he didn’t have to treat me like that.’
‘Di Matteo approached me completely differently, he immediately involved me in everything. That should have been much earlier. Really, I never forgave the previous coach.’
This article was edited by Conor Laird.