Yeah, I can see the American Football comparison for that run. Winger in rugby works too.
The NBA comparison works as well. I said before his back-to-goal play reminded me of Shaq in the paint at his prime...in the days where bigs were relevant. Shaq waits for the ball in the paint with his hand up, Penny just pops him the ball and Shaq gets to work, backing in. Lukaku showed that again vs Milan...it's pretty crazy his defender was frozen behind him, unable to do anything but wait for the ball to reach Lukaku on a couple of occasions. It's an aspect of his game that really only came into its own this season.
It's a very Serie A thing, the classic strikers do it a lot, and get a lot of fouls. Luca Toni comes to mind, but so many others, not all of them great of course. And the best Italian defenders are not only incredibly dirty but also very good at anticipating stronger strikers in all kinds of skillful ways, like kicking the ball between the attackers' legs. Of course big strikers play with the back to the goal in EPL too, but more often for disputed aerial balls, like headers for a runner behind them.
I think Lukaku could definitely be helpful to United these days by the way. He may not have been great but can be a n incredibly useful player if used well.
I can't think of many Serie A strikers who've done it that well, but Luca Toni is the best example, imo. Every time I hear his name, the immediate mental picture is of him with his back to goal in the box. Nowadays, I'd probably picture him in the Verona gear, most likely because it was a great kit. Zlatan is probably the other major example. Vieri was great at holding the ball up but didn't do it quite like those guys.
Romelu Lukaku had a “dream come true” when speaking to his idol Adriano today, as they discussed their Inter debuts, playing at San Siro and why they’d “score 70 goals” playing together.
Lukaku has always said that one of his heroes growing up was Adriano, so the official Inter Instagram account managed to get them having a conversation today.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Lukaku. “He was my idol as a child and did great things for both Inter and Brazil. Imagine if we got to play together, we’d score 70 goals per season! I’d love to follow your footsteps here at Inter.”
Adriano asked how the Belgian was settling in and why he had chosen the Nerazzurri when leaving Manchester United.
“When the opportunity came to go to Italy, I only thought about Inter. I was in love with the team that won all those Cups with its great strikers. The first week was complicated, because Serie A is very tactical, so I had to get to know the movements.
“I wanted to go to Inter after England, as I was curious to experience the football here. The first European Final I saw was the 1998 UEFA Cup, that incredible Ronaldo performance… I always thought, if I had to go to Italy, I’d play for Inter.
“After the situation I had in England, it was important for me to join a club that would help support me. I am happy here and so is my family.”
The two forwards exchanged their first impressions of playing at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
“I was anxious, it was a dream come true and the fans gave me a warm welcome. I looked more at them than the ball,” confessed Adriano.
“That’s true!” replied Lukaku. “I first looked up at my family in the stands, then the fans, only later at the pitch.”
Adriano wished his ‘heir’ well in the Nerazzurri jersey.
“You’ve taken my place! I am happy that Inter signed you, as you’re a great forward and I wish you the best. Inter is like a family and a player feels that. I expect great things from you!”
It's not about being overly nice or respectful. At one stage Adriano was amazing and indeed impressive so I don't think Lukaku is complimenting him over nothing. Adriano did win trophies with us before his alcohol and partying problems (04-05 Coppa and Supercoppa 2005 specifically, Adriano was super decisive, not to mention Scudetti despite not scoring shitloads in 06-07, 07-08 and 08-09, but some important league goals) so I wouldn't mind if Lukaku scores some great goals and win trophies like Adriano tbh. Now if Lukaku praises Choutos or Castaignos or Belfodil that would be strange...
Lukaku is very respectful to past players, bosses, etc. though.
Yeah, I get what you're saying. I don't want him to become a boozer and have less than a handful of very good seasons. He seems quite disciplined and intent on leaving some kind of legacy so he's on the right track.
Must-read interview with Lukaku. Bruv is like a sage; wise beyond his years.
Inter’s Romelu Lukaku: “Antonio Conte Like A Father, Didn’t Speak For 4 Days After Europa League Final”
In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, which appeared in today’s print edition, Inter striker Romelu Lukaku has spoken on a range of topics and started with what made him decide to become a footballer.
“My dad had no luck with money. When he quit his career he didn’t buy a house, he didn’t save money. When he finished playing I quickly realised that we would have serious financial difficulties.
“I immediately decided to do become a footballer. I wanted to improve my family’s situation,” he began.
Lukaku then went on to discuss how he has found being in Italy.
“Very well. It is the best country I have ever been to. I love being in Italy. I like the love of the people and the respect. I am a person who respects others and when I meet people I like to talk and be with the Italians who welcomed me very well and I am grateful to everyone.
“Even Italian football is a style of football that is good for me, it has made me improve in everything. I want to grow and I want to do even more for the team, the coach, the club and above all for the fans.”
Lukaku proceeded to talk on the possibility of Inter lifting the Serie A title come the end of the season.
“For me the most important thing is to talk on the pitch, we have to play and do well in the 90 minutes. Off the pitch I’m not a person who talks a lot.
“I prefer to express myself when I play but I want to give everything I can to do well this year and to do well for Inter.”
The former Manchester United player then went on to sing the praises of Inter manager Antonio Conte, who he describes as being like a father to him.
“For me he is a mentor, a father, a person who understands me really well and I understand him too and I am grateful to him for the esteem he has always had for me.
“The first time he called me, six years ago, he wanted me to be bought. For me, playing for him is really the realisation of a dream. You see his teams and you understand that you can, as an individual and as a collective, learn a lot and improve a lot.
“I feel I have grown a lot in the last season, thanks to him and his staff but we have to think this is just the beginning. We have to improve further and Conte is the right coach to do it.”
The Belgian national team forward then discussed the arrival of Arturo Vidal at Inter.
“For us the arrival of Vidal is very important. He is a player with great quality. Last year we did well but if there are things we have to improve in it is in quality and experience. Two qualities that Vidal has. You don’t win so much and with different teams if you are not a certain player.”
Lukaku then went on to discuss the Europa League final loss to Sevilla.
“It was a very difficult moment for me. I didn’t speak for four days after the game but one day I woke up and gave myself a reason.
“In the past season we didn’t win the league by one point, we lost the semifinal of the Coppa Italia because we didn’t score a goal and then the Europa League final finished 3-2.
“These things happen. Only by suffering you improve. Victory is fatigue, it is character, it is an analysis of one’s limits but it is combativeness, it is desire for redemption and success. You can lose, but only to learn how to win.”
Next Lukaku was asked what problems he would remove in the world if given the opportunity: “If I had the keys to the world I would work to eradicate every disease and remove poverty. Equal rights for all.”
The former Chelsea player then went on to discuss the differences between English and Italian football.
“Italian football is much more tactical. To play at certain levels you have to be intelligent in terms of movement, in the management of the ball and technically you have to be stronger because there is no space or time to turn around.
“A truly dangerous player, like Ibrahimovic, Dybala or Lautaro, get the ball and they always have three players marking them. You have to work a lot.
“For me the game is not prepared the same day it takes place. If we play on Saturday, I start thinking about the game on Wednesday.
“I study how a defender plays, how he positions himself in a position or how he reacts in certain situations. After training I stay 15/20 minutes with the coach’s staff. Let’s do some simulation of the movements of the opposing defense, so I am prepared for any situation”
He was then asked who the best defender he has come up against since moving to Inter in the Summer of 2019.
“They are all strong in Italy. Koulibaly is tough, I enjoy playing against him. I like the contrast and the strength of the opponent. It’s like this with Klavan who plays for Cagliari, or Kumbulla who was at Verona or with Bonucci or Romagnoli.
“All players put a particular effort into it when they play me but this also applies to me, because I want to win, and the stronger the defender, the more that motivates me. Don’t be surprised, but a good defender makes the attacker better because it forces him to give everything and look for new solutions.”
Next Lukaku went on to discuss some of the current up and coming Italian talents that he likes.
“Barella will be a very important player, for the national team and for Inter. He has grown a lot in the last six months and is impressive with the ball and also physically and mentally.
“Esposito can also be an important player, but he has to play more. With the mentality he has and with more minutes on the pitch he can give a lot. I also respect Kean and Chiesa.”
In conclusion he was asked if he gave a ball to a child and said ‘this is football’, what would he say to him.
“Humility, desire for work, head and hunger. Being hungry to win, working hard to satisfy it, to eat the pitch. Every moment of every game.”
Apparently Lukaku reached 40 goals for Inter in fewer matches than many former great goalscorers for the club,
Obviously different times, different circumstances, but its still an impressive feat.
Klinsmann scored 40 goals in ~120 matches, while Sosa needed ~80 matches to reach the same goal tally. Too lazy to look up exact figures.
Palacio was quite prolific in his first couple of seasons too, no?