Prior to the start of Saturday's game at The Hawthorns, Romelu Lukaku made his way down the tunnel and exchanged well wishes with some of his former West Bromwich Albion teammates.
This is nothing new. Players often cross over in the tunnel prior to walking out on the pitch to say hello to a friend or a former teammate. And thanks to the over-saturated coverage we're blessed with these days there is always a camera there to document these encounters.
Near the front of West Brom's queue was Jonas Olsson, a 31-year-old Swedish rearguard with long brown hair. He's one of those players that home supporters love and the rest of the league pays no mind to. A lunch-pailer, if you will. And even the most sincere football fan would be forgiven to look over the fact that Olsson was on his way to making his 200th career appearance for his club.
He was also there two seasons ago as Lukaku announced his presence to soccerdom by tallying 17 times while on loan at The Hawthorns. It was an enlightening loan spell for the then teenaged striker. With Lukaku at the top, West Brom -- who often spend their seasons staving off relegation -- finished a very comfortable 8th in the Premier League.
Following his wonderful 2011-12 campaign, Lukaku became a hot commodity in the summer transfer window and ended up on Merseyside, signing a loan deal with Everton. The Blues were able to politely nudge ahead of West Bromwich for his services, and Lukaku knew what coming to a club like ours would do for his blossoming career.
He made an immediate impact at Goodison and helped Roberto Martinez lead Everton on a wild chase for Champions League football. In the end a 5th place finish and a season to remember were good enough to have Bluenoses fall so hard for the talismanic Belgian that bringing him back to Goodison Park on a permanent deal seemed to be the only thing that mattered to anyone.
Luckily, Romelu came back.
Even in the World Cup Lukaku's class seemed to find a way to shine. After a slow start in Belgium's splendid group play, the Belgian came on late in the Red Devils' first knockout game and thwarted the United States' dream of a World Cup run.
As an American-Evertonian the blow was softened a bit when I saw the 21-year-old Lukaku take his Everton teammate Tim Howard into his arms and embrace him for a job well done. And while the media wanted to talk about one adult biting another, not much was made about this wonderful moment between a 21-year-old and the goalkeeper he just eliminated.
Which brings us back to Saturday afternoon.
Cameras were rolling as Lukaku made his way through the two queues and sought out a hug from his former teammate. Olsson obliged happily and the two shared a quick smile before the teams were set to take the field.
It was a huge game for Everton after a flustering start. They'd already donated points to Leicester and Arsenal before taking a bath against Chelsea, at home no less, so three points were badly needed if the Toffees wanted to start their march towards a top four finish.
Early movement from Everton saw a cross land on Olsson's feet and he dealt with it poorly, giving it right to Lukaku at the top of the box. The Belgian wunderkind made no mistake with it, finishing superbly past an outstretched Ben Foster. It was the type of finish even the most seasoned goalscorer would want to celebrate emphatically because it was just that beautiful. It was the type of goal that would cause teammates to run to the scorer in a fit of jubilation.
Instead Lukaku urged his teammates to subdue their celebrations and allow him to turn to the Baggies supporters and stick out his hand to apologize. He had no intentions of showing up his former supporters nor his former teammates.
The West Brom fans stood up as one and cheered their former star on, despite the fact that he just scored against them.
It is always a nice gesture when players refuse to go bonkers after scoring a goal against their former clubs. But it is especially reassuring to see a 21-year-old do it with sincerity away to a club where he spent one season on loan. It just goes to show you the type of person Romelu Lukaku is becoming, the type of professional that Evertonians point to and say, "That's what we're about."
Lukaku's brilliant finish was all over the Internet on Saturday, but not much was made of his muted celebration after the finish. But I'm sure the next time somebody goes and does something asinine on a pitch somewhere, we'll be sure to talk about it for weeks on end.