Inter Milan to welcome Lukaku back with 50,000 whistles for fans

Inter Milan fans have been preparing for days to give Roma striker Romelu Lukaku a most inhospitable welcome when their former player returns to San Siro.

The Italian league leader's most fervent supporters are planning to deliver 50,000 whistles "to use until you lose your breath at every single touch of the person who has betrayed our colors," according to a leaflet they have distributed.

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Inter will host Roma on Sunday and much of the attention obviously will focus on Lukaku, who will be playing his old club for the first time since acrimoniously leaving the San Siro and joining Jose Mourinho's side in the offseason.

Roma coach José Mourinho, who was in charge at Inter for two seasons, has tried to play down Lukaku's return.

"I'm shocked by the whole thing because I didn't think Romelu meant that much to a club with Inter's history. It's a surprise for me," Mourinho said Wednesday.

Mourinho will get a very different reception at the club he is still revered at after leading Inter to the Champions League, Serie A and the Italian Cup titles in 2010.

The Portuguese coach will have to watch from the stands, however, because he is suspended following his red card at the end of Roma's win over Monza last weekend.

"I didn't know Lukaku was so important in Milan because what he did there, winning the Scudetto and a couple of cups, has been done by 200 players in Inter's history," Mourinho said. "It'll be interesting to see.

"The fact that he left Inter to join Roma to help his coach is considered dramatic, while [Hakan] Calhanoglu going from AC Milan to Inter is just wonderful and there were no problems years ago when [Fabio] Cannavaro went from Inter to Juve or [Christian] Vieri moved from Inter to Milan."

There were indeed few problems when Lukaku left Inter the first time.

After helping Inter to the Serie A title in 2021, Lukaku expressed his desire to return to Chelsea and he moved to the Premier League club, much to the disappointment of the Nerazzurri fans.

But they welcomed him back with open arms when he returned on loan the following year.

After a mixed start to last season -- when he had to deal with injuries and a loss of form -- Lukaku improved and there was talk of making the move permanent, with Inter and Chelsea reportedly even agreeing to a fee.

But to the surprise of many -- not least his teammates and the club -- Lukaku started negotiating with rivals Juventus and AC Milan.

The final straw for Lukaku was when he was left on the bench against Manchester City in the Champions League final, where his glaring miss after he came on as a substitute proved costly as Inter lost 1-0.

The 30-year-old Lukaku eventually joined Roma on loan at the end of August and he is showing few signs of the struggles of last season, having already scored seven goals in nine matches in all competitions.

Both Inter and Roma are eager to not make the match all about Lukaku's return to San Siro. Inter will be looking to consolidate their lead at the top of Serie A one point above AC Milan and two above Juventus, while Roma is finally managing to string wins together after a poor start.

But for Inter fans "the day of the most unwelcome return is getting closer."

That was the headline on that leaflet a fan group distributed before a recent Inter match.

"Oct. 29 is a date to highlight in red to show and make heard all the disgust that we feel towards the person who turned his back on us in the most shameful way," read the leaflet, which also detailed the number of whistles that would be distributed.

It added: "A person who proved himself to be a little man, because before being a champion you need to be a man and keep to your word."