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Belgium forward Lukaku says he draws motivation like Jordan

June 25, 2021 GMT
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku applauds fans as he is substituted during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Finland and Belgium at Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 21, 2021. (Anatoly Maltsev/Pool Photo via AP)
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Belgium's Romelu Lukaku applauds fans as he is substituted during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Finland and Belgium at Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 21, 2021. (Anatoly Maltsev/Pool Photo via AP)
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Belgium's Romelu Lukaku applauds fans as he is substituted during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Finland and Belgium at Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 21, 2021. (Anatoly Maltsev/Pool Photo via AP)

SEVILLE, Spain (AP) — Romelu Lukaku was watching the documentary “The Last Dance” when he realized he had something in common with basketball great Michael Jordan.

“When I saw ‘The Last Dance’ and Michael Jordan talking about how he motivates himself, I thought to myself, ‘I’m not alone,’” the Belgium striker said Friday.

Lukaku said watching the documentary about the Chicago Bulls made him realize that he draws his motivation the same way Jordan did, using criticism against him to become a better player and prove others wrong.

“I’m not saying I’m Michael Jordan, but some people need that, I’m not the only one,” Lukaku said through a translator. “Cristiano (Ronaldo) will always want to be the best and break all the records, (Kylian) Mbappé will always want to win everything and be the next great one ... People need something to push themselves. I need that as well.”

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Lukaku said his first reaction when he is criticized, or when people say someone is better than him, is to go “practice to improve and show what I can do.”

Lukaku will be playing against Ronaldo on Sunday when Belgium takes on Portugal in the round of 16 of the European Championship.

Ronaldo has scored five goals at Euro 2020, two more than Lukaku. The Portugal forward is one goal from breaking the overall men’s scoring record in international soccer. He is level with former Iran striker Ali Daei with 109 goals.

The 28-year-old Lukaku said he needs to take his “hat off” to Ronaldo for his “impressive” career numbers.

“If there’s anyone who can achieve those numbers, it’s Ronaldo,” Lukaku said. ”It’s a motivation when you have someone in your league who can do that at that age. There is no reason why I can’t try to get to that level or as close to it as possible.”

Lukaku plays for Inter Milan in the Italian league, while the 36-year-old Ronaldo is with Juventus.

Lukaku said he feels he has shown recently he deserves to be considered one the best forwards in soccer.

“In the last couple of years I showed that I’m also a top-class player,” he said. “It was one of my goals, and I think I have achieved it. I have improved a lot in the last few years.”

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