Romelu Lukaku has penned an emotional piece about his childhood and his struggles to support his family through football.
Writing for the Players Tribune, the Belgium striker said that when he was six years old he found his mom crying because she did not have enough money to feed her children.
Lukuaku said it made him more determined than ever to pursue a career in football.
“I didn’t say a word. I didn’t want her to stress But I swear to God, I made a promise to myself that day. It was like somebody snapped their fingers and woke me up. I knew exactly what I had to do, and what I was going to do,” he said.
“I asked my father, ‘When can you start playing professional football?’.
“He said, ‘Sixteen.’
“I said, ‘O.K., sixteen then.'”
Lukaku says his tough background made him incredibly determined to succeed.
“Every game I ever played was a Final. When I played in the park, it was a Final. When I played during break in kindergarten, it was a Final,” he said.
“I used to try to tear the cover off the ball every time I shot it. Full power. We weren’t hitting R1, bro. No finesse shot. I didn’t have the new FIFA. I didn’t have a Playstation. I wasn’t playing around. I was trying to kill you.”
Lukaku said he also faced many challenges in getting to the top, including from his fellow Belgians, some of whom wanted to see him fail.
“If you weren’t with me when I had nothing, then you can’t really understand me,” he said.
“When I went to Chelsea and I wasn’t playing, I heard them laughing at me. When I got loaned out to West Brom, I heard them laughing at me.
“But it’s cool. Those people weren’t with me when we were pouring water in our cereal.”
Despite his critics, Lukaku spoke of his pride of playing for Belgium at the World Cup, and his desire to be the best.
And he made the perfect start to their campaign on Tuesday, scoring a brace in a big 3-0 win over Panama.
“If you don’t like the way I play, that’s fine,” he said. “But I was born here. I grew up in Antwerp, and Liege and Brussels.
“I wanted to be the best footballer in Belgian history. That was my goal. Not good. Not great. The best.
“I played with so much anger, because of a lot of things. Because the rats running around in our apartment. Because I couldn’t watch the Champions League. Because of how the other parents used to look at me.
“I was on a mission.”