ToffeeTalk

Football: Team-mates, not goals, motivate me

Romelu Lukaku celebrating with Ramiro Funes Mori after scoring the first goal for Everton.
Romelu Lukaku celebrating with Ramiro Funes Mori after scoring the first goal for Everton.PHOTO: REUTERS

In this exclusive column, the Everton first-choice striker speaks about facing Jamie Vardy, his own rich vein of scoring form and why he loves playing for the Toffees.

Ahead of our game against top-of-the-table Leicester City, there has been a lot of discussion about my pursuit of Jamie Vardy's record of scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games.
 

My own thoughts are simple: I want to win the game. I always want to win games and I never focus on the records. I never will. I just want to help my team-mates secure three points and, if I score, I will be happy that I have hopefully contributed to that.

It's still early in the season but Leicester deserve to be where they are now. They are winning games, they play good football and they are very disciplined defensively.

I never thought they would be top of the Premier League after 16 games. I thought they would be mid-table. But they have players who work very hard to get a result and they deserve to be at the top of the league. All credit to the team and to their coach, Claudio Ranieri.

Vardy, of course, has been in very impressive scoring form. I saw one game at the end of last season when Leicester won at West Brom and he tore their defence to pieces.

If you see the strikers I have played and trained with, Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, they are some of the world's best strikers... they live to score goals. It is an addiction. Last year, I lost the feeling but it is back now and I'm happy that is the case.

I remember thinking: 'Maybe next season, he'll be something.'

He's been amazing and he's a very good player.

But the game is not Vardy versus Lukaku. It is Everton against Leicester and it is a game we very much want to win.

In 2015, I have scored 28 goals and I'm happy with this but I wish all those goals brought us closer to the top four. My objective is to continue to work hard for the rest of the team so that we can try to achieve this.

I set the standard for myself when I was 16 of scoring one goal in every two games. But it gets tougher as the standard gets better.

If you see the strikers I have played and trained with, Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, they are some of the world's best strikers. I am privileged to have learnt from them as a young man. You are talking about Champions League and World Cup winners and, when you talk to them, they live to score goals.

It is an addiction. Last year, I lost the feeling but it is back now and I'm happy that is the case.

Our ambition as a team is to do well in the League Cup - we play Manchester City next month over two legs in the semi-final - and also the FA Cup. European football and possibly a Champions League spot at the end of the season is the main goal. This is a realistic aim when you see the results in the league.

The teams that you don't expect to be up there are getting stronger, so it's a really exciting time and, as a player, it motivates you to do even better because you know the competition of other teams is better.

As a player, you have to prove yourself all the time.

All across our team, we have players who want to prove how good they are and how good they can be. Gerard Deulofeu, for example, is second only to Mesut Oezil of Arsenal in Premier League assists this season. He is an old-fashioned winger, like a David Beckham, who constantly looks for assists.

He has all the abilities that, as a striker, you crave for he will create openings and he will find you with great passes. He comes from Barcelona so this is what you expect. But that feeling and desire to be the best runs throughout our team.

Every day, Everton In The Community, our official charity, changes the lives of people and saves lives through more than 60 programmes that range from mental health to youth engagement to disability.

All the players enjoy getting involved. This week, the entire Everton squad visited Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

As a footballer, you feel privileged to do it and all the players feel the same way. It helps to put so much into perspective.

Football is just a game and there are more important things in life.

The children of Alder Hey will be our inspiration when we play Leicester City.

•Everton are proud of their association with Chang, currently the longest-running main sponsorship in the English Premier League.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'Team-mates, not goals, motivate me'. Print Edition | Subscribe