Romelu Lukaku says Chelsea helped him become the player he is today – and the Everton striker is still taking tips from Didier Drogba.
Lukaku managed just 15 matches for the Stamford Bridge side, not scoring in any, but was more successful in loan spells at West Brom and Everton.
Despite Lukaku being hailed as the “new Drogba”, Blues boss Jose Mourinho decided to offload the Belgium international for £28million in the summer of 2014 having persuaded Drogba himself to return from Galatasaray for a second spell at the London club.
There is no resentment between the two players – quite the opposite, in fact. But, despite comparisons continuing to be made – Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew was the latest in the wake of Monday’s 1-1 draw – Lukaku is keen to stress he is his own man.
“He is my idol and he knows it, but I am Romelu Lukaku and I am proud of my family name and I want to make my own story,” Lukaku said.
“I respect Didier a lot, but I think there are still differences in our style of play and I am a young player. I want to play at a high level and help my team-mates out and hopefully at the end of my career I can say I did my best to create a name for myself.
“I still speak to Drogba. He gives me tips all the time. We have had a really special relationship since day one.
“When I arrived at Chelsea they put me next to him in the dressing room so that is when it started and I saw what a top professional he was – not just him but John Terry, Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres.
“As an 18-year-old, I was watching what they were doing and soaking it up and it was a good year of preparation.
“At the time I was frustrated because I was playing a lot in Belgium at 17 and I had a great reputation, but looking back I think it helped me to be the player I am today.”
That player just scored his 50th goal in his 100th appearance for Everton and, considering his age, there are likely to be a lot more to come – especially if he can keep picking up tips from Drogba, who now plays for the Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer.
Asked what he had learned most from the former Marseille forward, Lukaku added: “The determination to win. He was a leader.
“When the team needed him the most he always delivered so that is what I aim for and hopefully one day I can say I was that type of player.
“I text him, I phone him, whenever I need him. I say, ‘I did this today, this is going through my mind, how should I do this?’
“He knows what to say and what not to say, and that’s what I like about him.”