Roc Nation’s Michael Yormark on Romelu Lukaku: ‘You have to play to his strengths … I don’t think that happened’

The president of Jay-Z’s sports agency on his approach to talent, what he makes of Chelsea’s treatment of a star asset, and his mission to revolutionise rugby after Siya Kolisi made him fall in love with the sportMichael Yormark initially sounds like an American sports agent straight out of central casting as, having started his day as usual at 3.30am because “greatness is a process” which requires dedication, the head of Roc Nation Sports slips into a smooth overview of how it feels to represent a roster of famous athletes including Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Siya Kolisi. Yormark, an urbane 55-year-old who runs the London office of the company set up by Jay‑Z, has always followed a mantra of “every day I’ve got to be great”.Perhaps this is what you need to say to talk encouragingly to Lukaku each day, while negotiating with Chelsea’s new owner, Todd Boehly, to ease the return of an unhappy player to Internazionale, or when signing South Africa rugby’s first black captain soon after the country had won the World Cup. But Yormark is at his most interesting when discussing his new obsession with rugby, which he believes is a “sleeping giant”, or while reflecting on his struggle as an aspiring agent in New York in the late 1980s.

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