Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli (born 13 May 1993) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Manchester United and the Belgium national team. He is one of only five players to score 50 Premier League goals before his 23rd birthday, and the fourth player (and first foreigner) to score 80 before his 24th birthday.
Lukaku was born in Antwerp, a city in northern Belgium, to Congolese parents. His father, Roger Lukaku, played professional football and was capped at international level by Zaire. He has a younger brother named Jordan, who has progressed through the youth academy at Anderlecht and currently plays for SS Lazio in Italy. His cousin Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo plays for Club Brugge.
Lukaku was the subject of a television documentary series called De School Van Lukaku (Lukaku’s School) shown on the Dutch-speaking Eén network. The reality show followed the teenage Lukaku and his classmates during the course of a year at the Saint-Guidon Institute, a school in Brussels, where the footballer was based while with the Anderlecht youth team. In 2009, the series followed the school as it made a field trip to London visiting Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground. Lukaku said at the time “What a stadium. If one day in my life I will cry, it will be the day I play here. I love Chelsea.” In addition to his native French and Dutch, Lukaku can speak fluent English, Portuguese, Spanish, and a Congolese Swahili dialect, and can also understand German.
Lukaku has stated that his childhood hero and biggest idol was Didier Drogba.
Lukaku started his career with local side Rupel Boom, before joining Lierse, where he earned a move to Anderlecht of the Belgian Pro League in 2006. Lukaku made his professional debut while still at school at the age of 16, and became the 2009–10 top scorer in Belgium as Anderlecht won the Belgian championship. He also won the Belgian Ebony Shoe in 2011. In the 2011 summer transfer window, Lukaku joined Premier League club Chelsea. He did not appear regularly in his first season there, and spent the following two seasons on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Everton respectively, signing permanently for the latter for a club record £28 million in 2014. Three years later, Lukaku signed for Manchester United.
Lukaku made his senior international debut for Belgium in 2010, and has since earned over 50 caps. He has also represented the country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016.
A goal in a 3–1 win for Everton against Burnley F.C. on 15 April meant that Lukaku was the first Everton player since Bob Latchford to score 25 goals in two consecutive seasons in all competitions, and the first player since the legendary Dixie Dean to score in nine consecutive matches at Goodison Park.
On 20 April 2017, Lukaku was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the first time. He was also included in the six player shortlists for the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards.
Lukaku joined Manchester United on 10 July 2017, signing a five-year contract with the option of a further year. Although the fee was officially undisclosed, it was reported to be worth an initial £75 million, plus £15 million in add-ons. Lukaku’s signing came a day after former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney left the club to return to Everton, his boyhood club. Ahead of the 2017–18 season, Lukaku asked the permission of Zlatan Ibrahimović, who left the club during the summer, if he could take over from the Swede as Manchester United’s number 9. Lukaku was confirmed to have been given the number on 14 July.
Lukaku is a practising Christian. In July 2017, he was misidentified as a Muslim by several British tabloid newspapers, including The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Mirror, who claimed that he had been overlooked as a candidate for man of the match awards on Manchester United’s pre-season tour of the United States on the basis that he would be unable to collect the alcoholic prizes on offer.