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How a training tackle with Zlatan changed Romelu Lukaku

How a training tackle with Zlatan changed Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku has found his mojo back in recent weeks after a poor start to the season under Jose Mourinho. The Belgian forward scored crucial goals in United’s stunning comeback wins against Southampton and Paris Saint-Germain.

Lukaku was signed in 2017 and only played second-fiddle to Swedish powerhouse Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his first season at Old Trafford. The Big Swede was a massive addition to United’s squad three seasons ago when he was acquired from Paris Saint-Germain in a free transfer. 

Ibrahimovic scored a remarkable 28 goals for United in his debut season in English football, before sustaining a cruciate knee ligament injury which kept him out for the majority of the following 2017/18 season. The striker was then released by the club as he struggled to regain fitness. Ibrahimovic then ventured off to the United States as he joined MLS-outfit Los Angeles Galaxy in March 2018.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in his debut season with Manchester United.

Zlatan’s personality and leadership attributes were highly respected by his teammates and staff in the United dressing room. The 37-year old striker can be called a legend of the game, and remains one of the most feared strikers in modern football. Zlatan had a huge impact at Manchester United as an icon for both the young and the senior generation of players who learnt a great deal from him.

Romelu Lukaku is one such example. The Belgian forward has been a great beneficiary from his former teammate and is often seen idolizing the veteran striker. In a recent social media chat where fans could ask Lukaku questions, the striker narrated a story about how a tackle from Zlatan completely changed his outlook on life. 

“I remember one training session, because we were both strikers, we were never on the same team and, at one point, there was a 50/50 challenge. He went full-on against me!”, told Lukaku.

“That is when I knew this guy wants to compete and this guy wants to fight for his spot. That is why he changed me. It was an eye-opener. The guy had to fight to be in the position he is in”, he continued.

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“So, I learned just to focus, work hard and enjoy it as well. Because he is a guy who you can have a lot fun with as well and having his personality in the dressing room was good.”

Fans also asked him what his takeaways from Ibrahimovic’s time at Old Trafford were, to which he replied, “Everything I learned from Zlatan was great, from his stories that he told me when he was at Inter, AC Milan, Barcelona and even Ajax, to being on the field working with him, seeing how competitive he was.”

Zlatan scored 22 goals in his inaugural season at LA Galaxy as has been named team captain for this year’s MLS campaign. Romelu Lukaku, on the other hand, will hope to continue his reignited form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as his side return to Premier League action at home to Watford.

Romelu Lukaku
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