KEY POINTS

  • Romelu Lukaku talks about his first spell with Chelsea
  • A former Chelsea assistant manager says Lukaku "wasn't ready" back then
  • The Belgian striker insists he has transcended into a more matured player over time

Romelu Lukaku always knew how important Chelsea is to his illustrious career.

In 2011, an 18-year-old Lukaku arrived at Chelsea from Belgium to be honed as the club’s future primary center-forward.

At a young age, Lukaku had to learn his trade in a world-famous club and in one of the most prestigious tournament in the sport.

As expected, the teenager dealt with difficulties which would later help him become one of the best strikers in the world.

"It was painful and helpful, but I would say more helpful because it gave me the mentality and the mindset that I needed to become the player I am today,"  Lukaku told Chelsea's official website of his first spell with the Blues.

"The team was very good but nobody saw the extra work they did after the training sessions,” he continued. “As an 18-year-old, I saw first-hand every day how much the players worked on their craft. That's when I knew that was what you had to do to become this type of player. I told myself ‘when I'm not playing, this is what I'm going to do" and it basically just became a lifestyle’.”

Lukaku officially parted ways with Chelsea in 2013. Six years after, he became the star of Serie A side Inter Milan.

In Milan, the Belgian reached the pinnacle of his career and even won the Italian top-flight title before making a sterling return to Chelsea this past summer.

Along the way, Lukaku admitted that “opportunities” to return to Stamford Bridge knocked, but it didn’t materialize at the time.

In the end, he still found his way back to Chelsea and he’s very happy about it.

"I knew I would improve as a player so it was just about timing," he stressed. "I had two opportunities to come back, in 2016 and 2017, but it didn't happen for various reasons.

"In the end, it happened because now is the right time, the right age, the team is doing well and everything is there for it to be successful."

Like Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah, Lukaku was sent out on loan by Chelsea to further gain experience and hone their skills.

According to former Chelsea assistant manager Eddie Newton via Goal, Lukaku was “too desperate to impress that it went against him” and ultimately, he just “wasn’t ready at the time.”

This time, Lukaku is positive that it will be a completely different story as he has learned a lot over the years.

"I'm much calmer," he revealed. "I've matured with fatherhood and I'm more laidback. After winning in Italy and knowing what it takes to get there, that really helped me.”

Romelu Lukaku scored on his second Chelsea debut against Arsenal Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2021 Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS