Romelu Lukaku could barely contain his excitement after making his first start for Chelsea in the Carling Cup victory over Fulham at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues beat their West London neighbours 4-3 in a penalty shootout after 120 goalless minutes, 75 of which saw the hosts playing with 10 men after Alex received his marching orders for a professional foul. The £18m signing played the entire match and impressed with his endless running and his powerful physique even if some of his deliveries from wide areas went astray.
And the 18-year-old paid tribute to the older members of the squad for guiding him through the game.
“The experienced players were always helping me – John Terry, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard were speaking to me almost all the time,” Lukaku told the Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle. “They kept encouraging me, telling me to keep on going, and telling me what to do when I had the ball. It makes it easier to play with guys that always talk to you. They give you some kind of look, then I know what I have to do.”
“From the first whistle I was very focused. I think I played very well and was very helpful for the team. It was just a goal I needed, otherwise it was perfect.
“I have to continue like that to show the boss that he can count on me.”
Chelsea fans will also have been pleased by his willingness to go through the pain barrier for the club with the striker staying on the pitch despite clearly struggling in the closing stages.
He added: “After suffering cramps, I still could put in effort for the team and I’m very happy about that. That means that physically I’m all right, but I told the head coach to do more physical exercises so I don’t wear out and can keep up with the guys.
“At the end, I had a little bit of cramp and JT [Terry] came up to me and said I had to keep going because the team needed me.
“You have to suffer if you want to win something and go through pain.”
Lukaku will now hope to feature in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash against Swansea City though having played for two hours on Wednesday night, he is likely to start the match among the substitutes.