Lookman sends message to Nigerians after Europa League final hat-trick


Ademola Lookman has praised Nigerians for the supports he has constantly gotten from them after making headlines in Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final in Dublin.

The 26-year-old became the first player to score a hat-trick in an Europa League final as Atalanta defeated Bayer Leverkusen 3-0, ending the latter’s 51-game unbeaten run while lifting their first-ever European title in their maiden European final.

It has left a feeling of immense joy for Nigerians across the globe who saw Lookman miss out on the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations crown and the Coppa Italia.

“It’s incredible, I think I’ve said it in some previous interviews,,” Lookman said after the game.

“The support I get at home from my people is incredible, it gives me the motivation and the inspiration that I need to try to grow in different areas, not only regarding football but also personally. Unfortunately we lost in the final in January, but the support was incredible.”

Lookman’s stock has continued to rise since he joined from RB Leipzig in 2022 after struggling to make significant impact in Germany and in England in spells with Everton, Fulham and Leicester City.

He has however attributed his growth to the attacking style of play under manager Gian Piero Gasperini.

“I believe that in the last two years the club and the coach have supported me, in giving me minutes and encouraging me to play the attacking football that the club wants, which is good for me,”Lookman added.

“We played great football, I’m happy with the experiences had in the past, which helped me get to this level.

“His [Gasperini] intensity, from training to the conversations you have with him. You understand the expectations he has of you, I started thinking about football differently from the first time I spoke to him. I’m really grateful to him, he’s done a lot for me and for the club, I am grateful to him.”

Meanwhile, Gasperini reflected on the trajectory of Lookman’s growth, recalling how he was not so prolific in England where he was scouted while playing on loan at Leicester City

“….We had a senior manager at Atalanta who had worked at Leicester, who saw that they had the opportunity to bring him in from Everton and he thought he was a possible useful player for us,” the Italian tactician stated.

“But no one ever imagined that he could really make this much progress, because he didn’t, he wasn’t overly prolific in England.

“I changed his position a little bit, I played him in a slightly more attacking role. He already scored a number of goals last season. And this season he’s had a great year, albeit it was interrupted by the Afcon. He was away for a long while.

“And tonight he achieved something which will remain in the annals of football history, a stunning hat trick. And he’s really carried himself as an incredible player. A decisive player, a match winner.”

Lookman’s hat-trick took him to five goals in the Europa League and 15 in all competitions coupled with eight assists, equally his exact goal contributions tally from last season.

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