Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar has revealed that Romelu Lukaku told him not to worry and continue working hard after his error gave Manchester United a 1-0 win in Lisbon on Wednesday night.
The 18-year-old, who had made his Benfica debut just four days before, misjudged the flight of Marcus Rashford‘s in-swinging free-kick and carried the ball just over the line to give Man United the lead.
And he was decidedly inconsolable after the game, wearing a kind of blank expression and apologising to supporters before being comforted by Lukaku with a few wise words.
Speaking soon after the game, Svilar revealed that the Belgian told him to keep working in the right direction.
“Yeah, it was nice,” he said. “He just said that I don’t have to worry, continue to work and it will be okay.”
The Belgian wouldn’t have slept well last night. How many times did he play that free-kick over and over again in his mind, imagining what he could have done differently?
Lukaku’s words are worth listening to. He, after all, has experienced that gut-wrenching feeling of serving as the finishing touch to his side’s diminishment when he missed a decisive penalty against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup back in 2013.
But while Svilar heard the 24-year-old’s words, they wouldn’t have really gone in. The pain was still to raw for anything else to truly hit home.
In time, however, this experience will prove to be vital. Sometimes the best way to develop fast as a footballer is to learn the hard way, and one can only hope he pushes past what was a grim Champions League debut.