ROMELU Lukaku has revealed he has been learning a trick or two from NBA stars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to inspire his form this season.
The ten-goal striker is a big admirer of the dedication shown by the respective Miami Heat and LA Lakers basketball greats.
And he says their example helps drive him on in his ambition to become a Barclays Premier League ace.
“I have had a clear idea of what I want to do since I was 14 or 15,” said Lukaku.
“I always told my mother that by the time I was 16 I would be playing in a first team and she was laughing.
“But I turned 16 and 11 days later I made my debut.
“I don’t have time to lose and that’s why I work very hard, and when I play I make the best out of it.
“Every year is a new opportunity to be better.
“I watch a lot of other sportsmen like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
“They want to improve every aspect of their game and I want to improve every aspect of my game.
“I admire their dedication to the game and their hunger to do better and be better.
“They put challenges on themselves and say ‘this season I had so many blocks, next season I want to have even more blocks, and I want more rebounds and more points’.
“I have personal ambitions I want to reach but I also want to win on a Saturday as well.
“If I can be better and help the team, that’s perfect.
“I want to score goals but I want to win as much as possible as well.
“I want to end in a European spot and I know we have the players to do it.
“I know we have the technical staff to do it, we have the experience to do it, and we have upcoming players.
“Now all the experienced players are back and it’s a joy to work with them and be better than I was before.”
In following the lead of James and Bryant, the on-loan 19-year-old is no stranger to putting in the extra hours on the training pitch.
“You can always improve certain points in your games,” he added.
“Some days I go out before the other players and put some cones down and dribble between the cones and do step-overs and cut-backs.
“In one-v-ones, if I run at a defender I am very direct. I don’t wait for somebody else because I know I am quick and strong.
“I work on different aspects, shooting with my left and right and heading.
“I have four goals with my left foot, three with my right and three with my head so I really want to score with them all.
“I also have to improve my hold-up play so I’m really focusing on that in training.
“I have the qualities to be a complete striker and I have the people around me that would help me to do it.
“And I have the players around me that can help me to improve those things, so I am a very happy young man.”
As a teenager Lukaku is way ahead of the curve, with the average age of a Barclays Premier League debutant being 23.
Chelsea paid big money to bring him over from Anderlecht but he insists the price tag does not trouble him.
And he revealed he is currently reading the recent autobiography of a player who also hit the headlines from an early age - Wayne Rooney.
“No, I don’t feel pressure,” he insisted.
“People asked ‘why did he cost that much?’ But that’s just football.
“Wayne Rooney got bought for more than me and in the first year at Manchester United he didn’t have an easy year.
“I am reading his book at the moment. I am a very big fan of his book.
“It is very good for a player of my age because he went to a big club at the same age as me and I can learn from that.
“In Belgium you may have 200 games in the top division by 23.
“But I knew straight away that playing in this league would be difficult and the first year I was at Chelsea, when I was a baby, I was a big fan of Drogba and Anelka.
“When I saw Anelka’s first touch I called my dad and told him I thought I’d seen the best striker in my life.
“Anelka’s movement and Drogba’s finishing, when they were playing together, was incredible.”
Despite being afforded a high profile at such an early age, Lukaku remains grounded and often reflects on the rapid progress he has made.
“I started playing at six because I was bored at home all the time,” he said.
“My friends were always playing at school and saying their team was the best.
“But I knew I was the best in my class because, when we played, I did step-overs at six or seven.
“The other children wouldn’t do that but I went outside, did it, and went back in and told my dad to come and look.
“He took me in the car and we drove to the sports shop.
"He bought me my first pair of Nike boots and a kit and then we went to a training pitch and I saw all the children at Boom, the first club my dad went to when he arrived in Belgium.
“I stayed there until I was ten and then I went to a lower-league club because my father couldn’t take me to training all the time.
“I played in my village for one year, with children who were two years above me.
“We played on a big pitch but I wasn’t tall. I started growing around 12 or 13, then I shot up.
“Lierse took me when I was 11 and then Anderlecht came along.
“First they came for my brother but they didn’t know we were brothers and they ended up signing both of us.
“They came to our home with the papers to sign my brother.
“I went downstairs to congratulate my brother, they saw me, and the guy took another set of papers out!
“They had seen me play, because every time we played Anderlecht in the youth team I had a day that was my day.
“In my first game against Anderlecht we won 7-2 and I scored four, and then we won 3-0 at home and I scored two, and then we won 3-1 there and I scored one.
“I know every goal I have scored from under-11s until now.
“Each season, me and my dad have papers and we have it written down how many goals I have scored in a season so I know how many I have to score to improve.
“After I moved to Anderlecht we played against my former club Lierse and they gave me a shirt with 76 on the back.
“All the guys at Anderlecht asked why I had 76 on the back of my shirt and I told them it was because that’s how many goals I’d scored for Lierse the previous season.
“They couldn’t believe I’d scored 76 goals in 34 games and then that season I scored 59 goals in 34 games for Anderlecht.
“The 76 goals were for the under-13s at Lierse but when I went to Anderlecht they put me straight in with the under-15s.
“When I was very young I was a fan of Anderlecht, but then I started playing for them so I decided to start supporting Chelsea.
“I was supporting Chelsea at the age of 11 and then I also liked Real Madrid.
“Those were the two clubs I wanted to play for in the future.
“I supported Chelsea during the Mourinho years and every week I would come in to training and boast that we had won again.
“I knew Chelsea were interested in me when I was 14 years old.
“It was quite obvious I would be going there if I left Anderlecht.
“I said maybe I will not go now but I will go someday.
“I went when I was a bit older in the end but they knew me for a long time and it was quite obvious."