Lukaku at the 2012 Champions League final with Chelsea

Blue homecoming

Theo Milki

“Dream? I’m not dreaming. One day I’ll play here, you’ll see.”

Those were the words of a young and confident Romelu Lukaku as he gazed at the Stamford Bridge pitch in awe while on a stadium tour as a teenager. And those words could soon be immortalised in the sporting history books – although there were always going to be a few bumps in the road.

I remember seeing Romelu Lukaku for the first time, warming up in front of me at Stamford Bridge back in August 2011 before making his Chelsea debut against Norwich. I nudged my brother in shock as I was finding it hard to believe that our new signing from Anderlecht was only 18, given his physical stature and demeanour. It felt like the Belgian was destined for great things in west London, particularly after he picked out Didier Drogba as his footballing idol. However, numerous managerial changes and limited chances in the first team saw him eventually depart after impressing on loan.

His exit was bittersweet for us Chelsea fans. We knew we were losing a massive talent but at the same time, we were aware that he’d outgrown his squad-player role and was now good enough to be a starting no.9 elsewhere. Yet somehow I knew that Romelu would one day return to the Bridge and prove the doubters wrong. It always felt like the Chelsea faithful and Lukaku had this kind of mutual admiration for one another, almost as if he still belonged to us.

We’ve now reached that moment in time. Ten years on from that Norwich game and after an extremely impressive two-year stint at Inter Milan, Lukaku is back in Chelsea blue and has unfinished business in the capital. I’m over the moon as we’re finally getting that 20-goals-a-season striker that we’ve needed for so long. He could be the last piece in Thomas Tuchel’s jigsaw as the manager looks to cement this side as a European powerhouse for years to come.

Before he left, Lukaku’s last kick of a ball for Chelsea saw him miss the deciding penalty in the 2013 Super Cup final. Maybe that moment came too soon for him, as he tried to replicate his hero Drogba’s success. However, I have no doubt that Romelu watched our shootout triumph against Villareal this season and it fuelled his eagerness and impatience to succeed here. Rom is back – and he means business.

Our Champions Journalist fan reporter:
Theo Milki
Growing up between Fulham and King’s Road in London, there is only one team Theo was ever going to support – and he has been a devoted Chelsea fan all his life. Living so close to Stamford Bridge, he has run into all-time favourite player Frank Lampard several times in his neighbourhood, citing the Blues’ record goalscorer as a role model on and off the pitch. Lampard was also captaining the club on the night of their greatest triumph and Theo’s own high point as a supporter: the 2012 Champions League final win against Bayern.
About Champions Journalist fan reporters: These blogs have been written by winners of our annual Champions Journalist competition as well as a selection of editors from various fan page accounts. Together they offer their unique insights from the group stages all the way to the final.
Champions Journalist
With thanks to our Champions Journalist winner
Theo Milki
Champions Journalist is an annual competition that gives fans a chance to write about their club for Champions Journal.