‘He is a living iconic figure of Belgian football’: Roberto Martinez lauds Romelu Lukaku, with the Chelsea striker set to win his 100th international cap against the Czech Republic tonight
- Romelu Lukaku is set to make his 100th senior international cap on Sunday
- The Chelsea striker will become only the sixth Belgian to reach the milestone
- Robert Martinez has hailed him as a ‘icon’ ahead of the Czech Republic clash
- He hopes the 28-year-old can go on to reach 150 caps for his country
Romelu Lukaku has been hailed as an ‘icon’ as he reaches 100 international caps today at the age of just 28.
Lukaku will become only the sixth Belgian to reach the milestone and there promises to be a big celebration with their fans allowed back into the King Badouin Stadium in Brussels for the first time since the pandemic.
‘I think he is a living iconic figure of Belgian football. One hundred caps, 66 goals, at his age. He has a phenomenal attitude,’ said Belgian manager Roberto Martinez.
Romelu Lukaku has been hailed as a Belgian ‘icon’ ahead of his 100th senior cap on Sunday
‘I hope he can go onto 125 or maybe 150 caps. Sometimes you take for granted what we have.
‘These players don’t come often. I want to give him a big thank you for the commitment he has given the national team over the years.’
Lukaku, who rejoined Chelsea last month in a £98million deal from Inter Milan, seemed emotional as he considered the landmark.
‘I feel very fortunate to be in this position. To be in this generation of Belgian players. We have a good team, a lot of qualities, a very good mentality,’ he said.
‘It’s a very proud moment for me and my family to be added to this list of players who have reached a hundred caps.
Roberto Martinez said that he hopes the star striker can go on to reach 150 international caps
‘I hope the next generation understand playing for this Belgium national team is not something you take lightly. You really try to perform and put Belgian football on the map. I am very happy to be in this situation.’
He also batted away suggestions of a rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo who is the other big Premier League arrival this summer having agree to return to Manchester United.
‘I’ll never compare myself to Ronaldo. He’s one of the three best players of all time,’ said Lukaku. ‘I am proud that I was able to play against him. It’s good for the Premier League that he returns.
‘I don’t have a target of goals in my head. I just want to win prizes.’
Earlier, Lukaku revealed he’d appealed directly to Inter manager Simone Inzaghi to allow him to leave even though he was indebted to the Italian club for rescuing his career after a tough time at Manchester United.
Lukaku has scored 66 goals since making his international debut back in 2010
‘With Chelsea’s third offer of 110million Euros plus Davide Zapacosta, I knew it was serious and I wasn’t there anymore. Inter said No so I want to Inzaghis office asking to find an agreement.
‘I told Inzaghi: “Inter pulled me out of the s*** but I want to leave, only because of Chelsea.’
Belgium are the world’s No1 ranked team but needed a Lukaku equaliser to draw 1-1 away to the Czech Republic in March.
‘I think we were lucky to get a draw over there – they have a very good team,’ said Lukaku. ‘I like the way they press, they have a lot of aggressive runners.
‘It is going to be a tough test. I think what happened to us at the Euros (they lost to Italy in the quarter-finals) is a moment for reflection and see if we can push the bar higher.’
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