Lukaku "never appreciated" at Chelsea as Cole details striker's early struggles

Romelu Lukaku is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in world football at the moment, having just fired Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years with 24 goals in 36 appearances.

The 28-year-old is now looking to help lead Belgium to glory at the Euros and success at a major tournament would cap off a remarkable journey for the forward.

Ten years ago, Lukaku signed for Chelsea from Anderlecht in an initial £10m deal and went on to make just 15 senior appearances for the Blues, with only one Premier League start.

He did thrive during loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and Everton though, netting 17 league goals for the Baggies and 15 for the Toffees, and sealed a £28m move to Goodison Park in 2014.

Romelu Lukaku made just one Premier League start during his time at Chelsea
Romelu Lukaku made just one Premier League start during his time at Chelsea

Former Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole was at Stamford Bridge when Lukaku first joined and he believes the forward was never “really appreciated” at the club.

Speaking to ITV Sport, Cole said: “At 17, I probably had a better touch than him but when he receives the ball it is completely different as he is constantly under pressure, but since it has improved massively and his link up play for club and country is exceptional.

“The two loans gave him that self-belief to really kick on because at Chelsea, he wasn’t really appreciated by the fans, but he went out on loan to prove himself and now he is one of the best strikers in the world.”

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Cole also explained that Chelsea legend Didier Drogba helped Lukaku to improve his game during his time at the club.

He added: “Didier Drogba was like a father figure to him at Chelsea early in his career, and helped him develop his technique and improve as a striker.”

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Lukaku has previously hailed Drogba for the influence he has had on his career, explaining that the pair would talk “every day for at least an hour”.

“Everything happened quickly there,” Lukaku told Bleacher Report (as per Goal ). “I was only 18 years old, I had just finished high school three months earlier, I had graduated and suddenly I was already on the train to London.

“There I met Didier Drogba, he was doing physiotherapy. He told me immediately that I had to show him the ‘Blue’ character.

“From that day on we started talking every day for at least an hour, before training, after training.

“He, Anelka and every other player in that locker room showed me what it takes to become the person I am today.

“It wasn’t so much the coach as the players, they had a mentality that made them say ‘OK, let’s go win’.

‘It was a great experience, I saw how they won the Champions League, the FA Cup and this has served me well so far.”



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