The striker will lead the line against West Ham…
Everton star Romelu Lukaku will still play against West Ham in the Toffees’ FA Cup third round replay despite the death of his friend Junior Malanda, reports the Times.
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(Images) Chelsea and Everton’s Belgian Stars Pay Tribute After Tragic Death Of Junior Malanda
Former Wolfsburg player Malanda passed away after a car crash in Germany on the weekend, and was a friend of his fellow Belgians and Blues stars Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas. He played against the Merseyside club twice in the Europa League this season.
The 21-year-old found out the news after the North West club’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Saturday, and was devastated by the news. However, he has told his manager that he is ready to face the Hammers in their important FA Cup replay on Tuesday night. The two sides drew the first game 1-1 at Goodison Park, leading to the need to play again at Upton Park.
“Junior was his friend so obviously it was an incredible shock for Romelu and for everyone,” manager Roberto Martínez said. “We knew that he had that relationship with Junior because it was a talking point when we played Wolfsburg, the two of them facing each other. We found out straight after the Manchester City game. It was such incredible news that it has been tough. Rom has been really affected. Everyone has to be honest.”
He added, “It is so sad it is difficult to comprehend. Rom is really down about it. He is in constant contact with his family but he has been very strong over it. Playing football probably allows you to get rid of that feeling and that’s exactly what he needs. He trained well yesterday and we are all helping and supporting him.”
“It is so sad what happened. It makes you appreciate not to take anything for granted in life. Rom is a very sensitive man and he had always been giving Junior good advice. Junior was just breaking into the senior side with Belgium and you can imagine their group is very strong, Kevin [Mirallas] was very close to him too. Their feeling is they want to play and show their respect on the pitch as well,” the Catalan concluded.