Becoming a dad made Romelu Lukaku a calmer player and a winner

Striker Romelu Lukaku returns to Chelsea on five-year deal

While football is still a passion, striker Romelu Lukaku says having children has given him “peace” and a different outlook on life.

The Chelsea star, currently on loan at Inter Milan, feels his sons Romeo, four, and Jordan, one, have taught him to enjoy life off the pitch and not let defeats stop him from sleeping.

And having grown up in poverty, the popular player says he is driven by a determination his boys will never have to experience that.

Romelu, 30, features in documentary series One For All on Prime Video with Belgium teammates Thibaut Courtois and Axel Witsel.

The four 30-minute episodes, released on Thursday, follow the three stars in the build-up to their country’s appearance at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

The series is the first shot in French and Flemish, with English subtitles.

Romelu, who in the past has not spoken about his private life, hopes viewers of the series will understand him better after watching it.

He said: “As football players we don’t really have the opportunity to express ourselves about how we feel and how we live.

“Hopefully if you want to know something about me you can watch this documentary and then you can have a real idea about how I am, as a man, as a family guy, which is the most important thing to me in the first place.”

Belgium’s top goalscorer, who has also played for Manchester United, Everton and West Brom in the Premier League, says in the documentary that his sons have “brought me peace”.

When asked why during a Zoom interview between two back-to-back training sessions for Inter last week, he said: “Before I didn’t deal well with losses. It was something that would make me sick to my stomach, or I couldn’t sleep at night.

“When my first son was born he really changed me a lot. At the time I was going through a lot of difficulties at Manchester but when he was born, when I played the next game I scored, when I played the next game I scored and then the next game I scored.

“He really calmed me down and I had a different outlook on life because it was not about me any more, it was about him.

“Then when his brother was born I had to take more responsibility.”

The star, who scored 28 goals for Man Utd in 66 appearances, added: “When I see them now, they are football mad, it makes me laugh when I come home from a game, and if it is a night game they will still be up. They live the game and are really excited.

“They are young but they know what is happening. My oldest is five at the end of the year, so he really understands and my youngest is like, he is a baby still, but the energy he gives me is good for me.

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“Football is a world where it can be a high and a low, and I am one of the footballers who can talk about the highs and the lows, for sure, in my career.

“Having kids made me more responsible in controlling my emotions, controlling my feelings and that is why in the last few years I started winning.”

Romelu helped Inter become Serie A champions in Italy in 2021, then won the Club World Cup with Chelsea in 2022 and lifted the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.

Born in Antwerp, he started his professional career with Belgian side Anderlecht aged 16, before signing for Chelsea for the first time aged 18, rejoining the London team for a then club record £97million in the summer of 2021.

Belgium’s top goalscorer has spent this season on loan at Inter, who will face Manchester City in the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10.

Despite his father Roger playing professional football and being capped by Zaire, he was not looked after financially when he retired.

In the documentary, Romelu says as a result his family had “nothing, nothing, nothing” when he was growing up – and this has driven him to this day.

During the interview with the Sunday Express he said: “That is my biggest fear to this day. From five years old to 16 when I signed my professional contract it was tough. I would be training sometimes with the reserve team at Anderlecht and then go home and there would be no electricity.

“Nobody knew of my situation because I was quiet and I did not want to talk about my situation also. It drove me to do my best, so I was never satisfied, I always wanted to do more.”

He added: “Now it is about providing and being a father. You just want to provide for your kids and make sure they don’t live the same thing I did as a kid.”

Looking ahead to the huge clash with the English champions in Istanbul, he said every game in the Champions League has been a bonus.

Romelu said: “I am very excited about the final. I am happy as a club that we are in that situation because if you look how we survived our group stage, we were with Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

“We survived that so we have really enjoyed that and played every game like it is a final.

“So now to be in the final against a team that is dominating English football and European football right now is an amazing feeling.”

  • One For All is on Prime Video now

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