Lukaku Keeps the Faith at FIFA World Cup | Kwesé

Lukaku Keeps the Faith at FIFA World Cup

Lukaku Keeps the Faith at FIFA World Cup

12:45 SAST | 03 Jul 2018

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Professional athletes are a strange breed. They’re paid vast sums to live out the lost boyhood dreams of the rest of us. Mostly they’re disappointing creatures of flesh and blood who distinguish themselves by an unnaturally strong competitive edge and single-minded focus on some narrow skills. But there are some special athletes who transcend their chosen sport and lend a dose of grace and humanity to this sorry world.

Romelu Lukaku is arguably one of these characters. A practicing Roman Catholic, Lukaku is the son of Congolese immigrants to Belgium; his father Roger played football for Zaire (now known as DRC).

Humbling yourself to a greater power is one of the secrets of successful people, particularly those in the limelight. Lukaku seems to have avoided the traps of fame and fortune, eschewing delusions of perfection. His good friend and mentor Didier Drogba speaks of Lukaku’s desire to keep improving. After Belgium’s group-stage clash with Panama the two discussed a missed chance. Lukaku defended his decision to collect the ball on his left foot, with an eye on beating the defender. But Drogba schooled him by saying, “you need to focus on your first touch, so it would have been better to control with your right.” After watching the moment again Lukaku conceded his mistake, “yeah, you were right.”

Against Japan, Lukaku wasn’t at his devastating best, but he was a constant threat who had a say in the last-minute winning goal. One football commentator referred to Lukaku as a “genius” for the way he drew defenders, opening up space for De Bruyne to pass to the right flank. And then when the ball was centred his way he threw the dummy, knowing that Chadli was perfectly positioned for the easy tap-in on the far post.

Lukaku is known to be a student of the game, and he showed that it’s possible to manufacture a goal without even touching the ball.

Back in 1858 in Lourdes, a French town in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, a peasant girl saw visions of the Virgin Mary. Today the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the world’s most famous religious pilgrimage sites, attracting millions who seek healing and salvation.

Romelu Lukaku visited the famous site in 2014. Religion demands a belief in the unseen and the improbable. Perhaps this is the hidden power behind Lukaku’s success. He scores goals without touching the ball and he lives the dream of a first FIFA World Cup for Belgium. He will need all the belief he can muster when Belgium take on the world’s most formidable football nation.

FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals: Belgium vs Brazil (Kwesé FIFA World Cup Channel, Ch 300, 6 June at 19:45 CAT)

 

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