Following Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Manchester United, where he will play along best mate Paul Pogba, the pair have spoken to ESPN about when they first knew about each other and what their plans are for after they’ve retired.
On their friendship, and how young they both were when they first heard about each other for the first time…
Lukaku: “I knew about him [Pogba] when I was 15, because he played against my brother. I was already with the first team at Anderlect. My dad came to the house, and he said, like, ‘There’s this kid for France. Amazing.’ So I said, ‘What’s his name?’ and he’s like ‘Paul Pogba, and he’s going to play for Manchester United.’ I’m like, OK, then I start looking some videos up on YouTube. When you’re younger that’s what you do. You try to look for the guys who are good at your age. So I went and I was looking, and I knew he was a good player. We met for the first time at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea play Man United. We were both in the stands looking at each other like, ‘What are we doing here?’ But it was a great game to watch, and to learn, as well. And after the game, we start speaking. We exchanged numbers. And we knew the year after would be our year. He went to Juventus and did his thing. I went to West Brom and learned my trade in the Premier League. And here we are now.”
Pogba: “You say 15. For me, it was 13. I was even younger. Everybody knew about Romelu Lukaku. I think when he was 11, he was playing for the first team already. I could see some video. He was like 15 or 16, (to Romelu) you were playing for the first team already? So, yeah, obviously I knew about him. Like he said, we saw each other during the game, Chelsea against Man United. And we start talking. We had the same dreams, same goals. And he wanted to play in the stands. And we were talking like, hopefully the day will come. We just have to keep working hard, and one day we’ll start playing for the team. And we kept in touch, and he became one of my best friends outside the pitch and became a top-class player. So I’m very happy for him, yeah.”
On which of each other’s attributes they wish they had…
Pogba: “His [Lukaku’s] power. He’s too powerful this guy, it’s not normal. I heard when he was 2 he could eat two Big Macs.”
Lukaku: “I was always a big boy. When I was like six months, I was the size of an 18-month-year-old child.”
“His [Pogba’s] skill. His aura on the pitch. The way he commands the game. Obviously, he’s a midfielder, but his skill and vision, as a striker, you have to think more sometimes as a midfielder when the defense is on lock. If I would have his vision – I’m skilful, but his skill to get away from tight spaces, if I could add that to my game, I could maybe score 10 to 15 goals more.”
On their post-football careers, and the coaching qualities each other possesses…
Lukaku: “I would be the coach.”
Pogba: “He’s pretty good at analyzing things. When I was playing last year, he came to my house and told me, ‘Oh, Paul, no, you should have done it. Look there. Should have passed it there. Should have run there. Now you have to shoot.’ So he’s very good on those kinds of things, but I’m more like, maybe I’m more – how can I say that? – I’ll more talk to young people. You know, I’m more close to people, and tell them, ‘No, don’t do this.’ But it’s different. He will be the coach. I will be the assistant, more close to the players.”
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