Romelu Lukaku hasn’t had it easy over the past 12 months as he revealed in a recent interview, but as far as football friends go, there aren’t many better than Thierry Henry.
Inter Milan made it to the Champions League final after a commanding 3-0 aggregate victory over their Milan rivals. For Lukaku, he’s gone from public enemy number one at Chelsea to a star reborn again in Italy.
We as football fans love to analyse what’s happening on the pitch itself, but we are sometimes guilty of overlooking the human aspect of the sport.
Lukaku himself admitted that he wasn’t himself during the World Cup with Belgium. At the time of the tournament he had just come back from a hamstring injury.
“The World Cup was very tough for me. For the first time in 15 years playing football I went through a moment like this. I let my country down. Playing for your country is amazing and when you play at the World Cup you want to make the best of it,” Lukaku told CBS Sport.
“Because we all knew as players and staff that this was our last chance. And to go out in the way we did… I took everything into my mind when I left camp and I really felt down.”
Luckily enough for the Belgian frontman, he had Henry to lean on as a coach and as a friend. “For two weeks I was worried and he knows it, because I texted him every day just asking him how he was because it wasn’t easy,’ Henry said.
“You guys don’t understand what was happening. It wasn’t easy but he came out of it. And that’s why I’m very proud of him. It was really far from where he is right now.”
Lukaku: "I am very grateful to Thierry…" 🙏
Henry: "I texted him every single day to make sure he was OK" 📱
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 16, 2023
We’d all appreciate a friend like Henry. In his playing days, the French forward was as cold as ice, but even he has admitted to softening up over the years.
You cannot help but be sucked into the charisma of the former Arsenal striker. Between him and Lukaku, they have scored over 750 career goals which is some going.
Henry watched on like a proud farther when Lukaku made it to the Champions League final. With a gleeful twinkle in his eye, you can tell the close bond the pair have.
“He was a pain in the you know what, but in a good way,” Henry responded when asked about working with Lukaku. “I was the same. It’s always for the good of the team. Always try to challenge everybody.
“At times he’s very critical of himself and that can bring him down sometimes, because he can’t see the positive side of it.
“Why I am happy with him is that after the World Cup it wasn’t easy. But he came back and it’s the first time I saw him like that against proper adversity when he’s slowly but surely coming back and showing he can deliver no matter what – even when everyone is against him.”
In the Serie A and Champions League, Lukaku has scored 11 goals and provided six assists. He is averaging a goal contribution every 90.9 minutes.
Lukaku now seems to be back on track with life and his footballing career and we couldn’t be happier for him. We also can’t get enough of him and Henry together who make for TV gold.
By Ben Stewart