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Lukaku fast-tracked to the top

Published: Saturday 6 March 2010, 11.56CET
Still only 16, Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a sensational first season with RSC Anderlecht, leading the Belgian top flight in scoring and earning a first appearance for the national side last week.
by Berend Scholten
Published: Saturday 6 March 2010, 11.56CET

Lukaku fast-tracked to the top

Still only 16, Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a sensational first season with RSC Anderlecht, leading the Belgian top flight in scoring and earning a first appearance for the national side last week.

Name: Romelu Lukaku
Club: RSC Anderlecht
Debut: 24/05/09 v R. Standard de Liège
(Belgian first division title play-off second leg)
Position: striker
Nationality: Belgian
Date of Birth: 13/05/93

Described "as a pearl" and "a gift from heaven" by Belgian international Vincent Kompany, no one has made as big an impact in Belgium, or arguably Europe, in so little time as Romelu Lukaku this season. Lukaku became the youngest player to appear for Anderlecht when he made his debut just 11 days after his 16th birthday on 24 May 2009 in last season's Belgian championship decider against R. Standard de Liège. Having announced himself to Belgian football last term he has taken it by storm this time round, quickly establishing himself as a key figure in coach Ariël Jacobs' plans.

Tall, powerful and fast with a blistering left-foot shot, the Antwerp-born prodigy leads the Belgian league with 13 goals this term and has hit three more in the UEFA Europa League. He became the third youngest player to appear for Belgium when he won his first cap against Croatia on Wednesday. Not that his father Roger, who also played professionally in Belgium and Turkey, will be letting his son get ahead of himself.

After watching him score one goal and set up another in last week's 4-0 win over Athletic Club, celebrations were muted as the pair reflected on a late booking for kicking out at an opponent. "First I congratulated Romelu, but after that I put him in his place," the Kinshasa-born former striker said. "That is not done. He did not answer. That means he agreed with me."

Breakthrough game
SV Zulte Waregem 0-2 RSC Anderlecht
22/08/09 Belgian first division

Lukaku joined Anderlecht in 2006 from K. Lierse SK and it was clear from the moment he made his top-flight debut against Zulte Waregem that the club had something special on their hands. Twenty minutes after coming on as a substitute, he scored his first senior goal and one that will be long-remembered, a nonchalant back-heel to convert a low cross. "After scoring I dived into a sea of happiness," he said. "You think you are flying and can take on the whole world."

He says:
"Before Chelsea, Werder Bremen had already shown an interest. After that AC Milan and Internazionale came along, but I didn't fancy either as in Italy youth players hardly get a chance before they turn 20. I was already very close to a professional contract with Anderlecht and I realised I would develop better there as I would get more opportunities."
On signing his first three-year professional contract with Anderlecht in May 2009

"It's the most important moment of my career so far. I have to keep a cool head, which isn't always easy given the circumstances. I will not change the way I am and will not leave school without my diploma. I will also not leave Anderlecht before I'm 20.
On becoming the third youngest player ever to be called up by Belgium this week

They say:
"He's just 16 but he's already a great player and he has a big future ahead of him, if not at Anderlecht then at one of the biggest clubs in Europe."
Anderlecht team-mate Roland Juhász speaking to UEFA.com after victory against Athletic

"He's a fantastic striker. He wins a lot of 50-50s, he's fast and he scores goals. What more can I say and what more can you ask of him?"
Anderlecht's Oliver Deschacht told UEFA.com

Last updated: 09/04/10 15.34CET

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