Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

SPECIALLuk's Former Boss Watched Striker Grow

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

SPECIALLuk's Former Boss Watched Striker Grow

Article excerpt

CHELSEA. The 'difficult item' that Anderlecht boss Ariel Jacobs repeatedly had to address in one-to-one meetings with Romelu Lukaku.

With Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge already at Stamford Bridge, the 18-year-old had a fight on his hands to realise his dream of playing at SW6. But there was no stopping the Belgian joining the 'club of his heart' in 2011 as Jacobs recalls.

"I remember we made a list of the strikers who were at Chelsea at that moment," he told M.E.N. Sport.

"I asked Romelu: 'Who do you think is No.1, 2, 3 and so on?' In the end, he came to the conclusion that he would have to fight with Sturridge, although Sturridge was older than him.

"One day, I told him, cruelly: 'You shouldn't forget if you fight with Sturridge for position No.4, that means you might not be sitting on the bench, but in the stands.' .

"I remember him saying that he would die if that happened."

Jacobs would soon be proven right.

The former Anderlecht boss handed Lukaku his debut just 11 days after his 16th birthday - in a championship play-off decider away to Standard Liege.

Lukaku quickly established himself as one of football's first Youtube superstars and fired Anderlecht to the title a year later as the league's youngest ever Golden Boot winner.

The rigours of a season, though, meant that the individual coaching he enjoyed in the youth team was curbed, which affected the teenager's first touch in particular.

I was, and am proud that a worked with opportunity step Ariel "That's one of my regrets - I should have [done more] but afterwards it's easy to talk and you can never know the effect of the additional load," Jacobs argues.

"Due to the intensity of the games, it was not always possible to spend time on that.

"When I see him afterwards growing in the national team and in the Everton squad he improved a lot in that period.

"He will never become a Messi, but I think he still made the necessary improvements to become a more complete player and still keep his basic qualities."

One issue Jacobs was able to nip in the bud, though, was Lukaku's extravagant goal celebration.

As well as impressing crowds with his goalscoring, the 6ft 3in teenager soon carved out a reputation for somersaults. …

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