‘Time running out for Belgium’s ‘golden generation” – Jordan Lukaku reveals 2018 World Cup regret ahead of Euro 2020
The full-back, whose older brother, Romelu, will be leading the line for the Red Devils this summer, feels his sibling can inspire the team to glory
There is still a tinge of regret that Belgium lost to France at the semi-final stage of the 2018 World Cup, according to Red Devils international Jordan Lukaku.
And as such, he believes that the upcoming European Championship may well be the last chance for glory for the country’s so-called ‘golden generation’, led by Jordan’s brother Romelu, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.
Having upset Brazil in the quarter-finals in Russia, a fatigued Belgium side took on France who, thanks to a solitary Samuel Umtiti goal from a corner, eliminated Roberto Martinez’s side in the last four.
Belgium did go on to win the third-place play-off against England and record their most impressive World Cup showing of all time, but it was an overall result that was so close to being truly historical.
“Everybody is still upset about losing to France at the World Cup,” Lukaku tells Goal. “I wasn’t surprised we beat Brazil, but I felt like France set up to stop us rather than go toe-to-toe with us. Of course, they had world-class players.
“We know we are good and can be great, but we need to go out and prove it by winning a title. If we had beaten France, I think we would have won (the World Cup), so it is a regret.
“You know that people are counting on you and it is a kind of pressure, but the term ‘golden generation’ comes more from fans and media. There might be more on this one now as the time may be running out on this group.”
Lukaku, who has eight caps under his belt for Belgium, was part of the squad which reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 and has seen close-up the abilities of talismanic attackers Hazard and De Bruyne.
“Eden has so much ability. He leads the team without saying too much, he’s a technical or silent leader,” says Lukaku.
“He can carry a team on his back like he did at Chelsea and he did it with the national team. It was incredible.
“Kevin [De Bruyne] is like that too. I have known about him for a long time because my brother has been facing him since a long time ago in the youth leagues in Belgium. I played against Kevin and he was just amazing.”
Romelu Lukaku, meanwhile, has gone on to become the all-time top scorer for Belgium and will be key to any chance of success that they will have in the tournament.
“When we were kids we were competitive against each other,” he adds. “It is really special because my brother broke through and I had an opportunity to play for the first team after that. It’s a relief when you make it after so many years.
“We also wanted to help out our parents as we weren’t doing financially well in our family as kids. It was rough so we were motivated for more. It’s not normal to have two from a family make it.”
Lukaku senior has scored 60 goals in 93 international appearances, and netted 30 goals in all competitions last season for Inter as they claimed a first Serie A title in more than a decade.
“I am so happy for him at Inter because he was chasing that title for so long,” says Jordan. “He really wanted to be a champion again.
“I see how he works towards his goals so I was really happy for him. He wanted to end that winning streak of Juventus and that’s what they did.”
Romelu Lukaku Inter quote GFX
While his brother ranks among the world’s best strikers, left-back Jordan is at an important crossroads in his career. He is entering the final year of his Lazio contract, where former manager Simone Inzaghi has departed and Maurizio Sarri will soon arrive.
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Lukaku, one year younger than his brother, returned on loan to hometown club Antwerp last season, but was unlucky to miss out on the national team squad for these finals.
He came close to joining Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle in 2019, is plotting the next step of his career with Roc Nation and has attracted interest from a host of clubs.
“I have one year left so either I’ll sign a new deal and stay at Lazio, or the club may accept an offer to sell me. If I go somewhere else, I am no
t too worried about it because that’s football. I’m ready for any challenge.”