Chelsea legend Ashley Cole has praised Romelu Lukaku’s development since leaving Chelsea 10 years ago but admits the striker wasn’t respected at Chelsea.
Asked why Lukaku did not make the grade at Stamford Bridge, Cole told ITV Sport: “He joined as a kid, he joined as a 17-year-old.
“[He was] a raw talent, his game understanding was not great. Didier Drogba was his kind of father figure who used to help him in terms of developing his technique and understanding of movement.
“And then I think the two loans really gave him that self belief that he was good enough. Yes, he was still young but he still had a point to prove.
“I think no one kind of respected him at Chelsea, in terms of the fans. When he did play, was he going to be the top striker for Chelsea? He had Didier Drogba in front of him.
“For him to go on loan and prove to himself, he definitely came back with that self-belief, that courage, and now his performances have been second to none, he’s been quality.”
Asked about the criticism Lukaku often receives over his first touch, Cole replied: “Yeah… me at 17 years of age I think my touch was probably a little bit better than his!
“But you’ve got to understand, he was getting pressure from behind, it’s something he needed to work on and I think he did. Now stuff sticks a little bit better, his link-up play has improved, and in front of goal he’s deadly now.”