Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has opened up about his relationship with Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and the advice he gave him as a youngster.
As young boy growing up in Belgium Lukaku was a massive Chelsea fan and Drogba was the player he idolised and modelled his game on. So when the Blues signed up the talented young striker as a 18-year-old in 2011 it seemed as if all Lukaku’s dreams had come true.
However, despite spending time training with his idol things did not quite work out for the Belgium international at Stamford Bridge, and he would only make 10 Premier League appearances for Chelsea before leaving permanently in 2014 to join Everton.
Lukaku would soon begin to impress at Goodison Park however, and last summer he secured a £75 million move to Manchester United, where he went on to score 27 goals in his first season at Old Trafford.
Drogba is currently working as a World Cup pundit with the BBC and has admitted that he still has a close relationship with the 25-year-old. He also revealed that he advised the talented striker to keep himself lean in order to improve his speed and agility around the box.
“The first time I spoke to Romelu, he was a young boy and still at Anderlecht,” Drogba told the BBC.
“My friend Vincent Kompany put him on the phone and Romelu told me he was a big Chelsea fan and I was his idol – he had my name on the back of his shirt, and a poster of me on his wall.
“A few years later, the boy was with us, sitting next to me in the Chelsea dressing room.
“I got him that space, because he was supposed to be the next Chelsea striker, so I wanted him to feel comfortable, to learn and understand the spirit of the team from me.
“I wanted to pass on to him my advice and experience of the club – that is why he was there.
“Right from the start, he had to work hard.
“I remember when he first came to the club he was not doing the full training sessions sometimes – they would take him to one side and make him work on his first touch, his passing – everything.
“When he was young he was very raw. Powerful and physical, yes – always.
“I always challenged him and told him that he needed to get leaner and he would be a different player – faster, and more agile at moving and turning.
“He has done that. When I look at the player he is now and the one he was seven years ago, there is a big difference. If you go through the different parts of his game, there is quality everywhere.”