Romelu Lukaku became the first player ever to score in nine successive UEFA Europa League matches with his goal for Inter Milan against Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-final.
That goal extended what has being to date an extraordinary debut season in Italy for the 27-year-old Belgium international, his best goalscoring season of his career.
Added to his latest feat, Lukaku has also equalled and set other scoring records in his first year on the blue side of Milan.
He is the fastest player to get to 20 goals in Inter Milan’s colours, record holder for most away league goals (15) -the first Inter player to score that many goals on the road in 70 years- and also the first Nerazzurri to hit the 30-goal mark since Samuel Eto’o in 2010/11.
So how exactly did Lukaku end up being a part of Antonio Conte’s revolution in his first year back managing in Italy?
Unwanted by former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, Inter Milan jumped at the opportunity to sign Lukaku for a club record fee of around £73m, two years after current manager Conte came close to working with the hardworking forward at Chelsea.
It came as a surprise at the time that the Red Devils were willing to do away with a player who had netted a career 113 Premier League goals (28 of those in two seasons in the Red Devils’ colours) and was comfortably in the top 20 spot for all-time goals scored in the division.
Then, the narrative allegedly been put forward was that the club was putting faith and trust in younger players, notably academy graduates, who had the clubs values enshrined in their foundation, a claim which famously led to banter from opposition fans who referred to United as “DNA FC”.
A review of the events in his final days in Manchester does appear the player had been made the scapegoat and outcast following the club’s struggles, but it proved to be a major test of character and catalyst as he decided to begin a new chapter elsewhere after his eight-year Premier League career.
Upon signing for Inter, Conte expressed optimism that Lukaku would be an excellent signing for the club. (https://www.goal.com/en-ng/news/romelu-lukaku-excellent-signing-inter-antonio-conte/168srwctk152l105bviy80j3ht)
True to his manager’s words, Lukaku has taken to life in Italy like a duck to water, finishing third with 23 goals on the Serie A scorers’ chart and he can only work towards winning his first league title outside of his native Belgium in the coming season.
It has being an all too familiar story for Belgium’s record goalscorer since leaving his homeland at 18 to play abroad, as doubters have consistently tried to pull him down regarding his talent, contribution and place in the history books.
In return, Lukaku has repeatedly displayed the rare mental strength to evade every hurdle and distraction, a unique quality which even rivals supposedly with a better first touch must grin with envy as they doff their hat for a player who truly is reborn and unstoppable.