It’s a bold statement to say Everton’s most expensive ever signing, who has suffered from indifferent form for much of the season, has written himself into the club’s folklore just six months into his contract at the club. However, he is able to state a claim after becoming Everton’s highest ever goalscorer in European competitions.
It would be easy to underplay the achievement by highlighting the current bloated nature of Europe’s cup competitions. More significant though is the five-year ban which prevented English sides competing in Europe following the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. This forced strikers such as Gary Lineker to content themselves with hunting domestic honours. Romelu Lukaku’s record should be celebrated, but it is important to reflect on the opportunities Everton fans missed out on during some of the club’s glory years in the 1980s.
The lengthy ban on English clubs contributed heavily to the failure of English teams to win the tournament after the ban ended. Prior to the suspension, English clubs had held the trophy aloft seven times between 1977 and 1984, yet no English club won the trophy again until Manchester United in 1998.
In a week in which Chelsea have been knocked out of the Champions League and the two remaining English sides look set to suffer a similar fate before the quarter-final stages, it is worth considering how long it will take for English clubs to challenge Europe’s elite again.