Romelu Lukaku admits first Chelsea spell was “painful” and he twice came close to returning

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Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has opened up on his difficult first spell with the club as a youngster and explained how it impacted his career.

The Belgium international has just returned to Chelsea after spells at Everton, Manchester United and Inter Milan, and he’s started this season well in Thomas Tuchel’s side.

Still, it wasn’t always so easy for Lukaku at Stamford Bridge, with the 28-year-old now back at the club as one of the biggest names in world football, whereas in his first spell he was an inexperienced youngster competing with far bigger names for a first-team place.

Lukaku admits it wasn’t easy being at Chelsea the first time round, but he insists that it was also beneficial in a way, as it helped teach him what he needed to do to be a success.

Speaking to Chelsea’s official website, he said: “It was painful and helpful, but I would say more helpful because it gave me the mentality and the mindset that I needed to become the player I am today,’ says our number nine.

“The team was very good but nobody saw the extra work they did after the training sessions. As an 18-year-old, I saw first-hand every day how much the players worked on their craft.

Romelu Lukaku has shone on his return to Chelsea

“That’s when I knew that was what you had to do to become this type of player. I told myself ‘when I’m not playing, this is what I’m going to do’ and it basically just became a lifestyle.”

Lukaku added that he twice came close to returning to the Blues before finally coming back this summer, and he believes this is the right time for him to be back in west London.

“I had two opportunities to come back, in 2016 and 2017, but it didn’t happen for various reasons,” he said.

“In the end, it happened because now is the right time, the right age, the team is doing well and everything is there for it to be successful.”

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