Ademola Lookman, ‘Man of the moment’ in Africa

More Nigerians have continued to celebrate the success of the Super Eagles playmaker, Ademola Lookman, as his heroics helped his team, Atalanta FC of Italy, to win the UEFA Europa League.

Lookman scored the first-ever hat-trick in a Europa league final when Atlanta defeated Bayer Leverkusen FC of Germany 3-0.

The German clubside had a 51-game undefeated streak before their loss to their Italian counterpart at the finals.

Football followers and sports administrators told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the performance of the former U-21 of England star was a thing of joy for Nigeria.

Lookman had played for some clubs in Europe before his spell with Atalanta where he won the UEFA Europa league and scored a historic hat-trick in Dublin, Ireland.

He signed for Atalanta FC in 2022, instantly made some impacts and within the space of two years the Italian club made history by winning their first European silverware in their 116 years of existence.

The team won the Copa Italia more than 61 years ago.

The UEFA Europa League win by Atalanta FC over Bayer Leverkusen that remained unbeaten throughout the season, is a testament of the indepth quality of a team even with an emphatic win.

For Ademola Lookman, his performance, though surprisingly to many, was not much of a surprise to other pundits.

Lookman had once showed a glimpse of his inate quality when he represented Nigeria at the last African Cup of Nations (AFCON) where he emerged as top scorer for the team.

Of a note is the fact that Lookman started his career in Everton in 2017, where he marked his debut from the bench with the final goal in the Toffees’ 4-0 victory.

His spell in Everton is fraught with ups and downs as he was loaned out from the Goodison Park within two seasons.

Ademola Lookman, as a journey man, went on a six-month loan spell at RB Leipzig after which he was able to secure a move to Red Bull Salzburg in 2019 and was later sent back to Fulham FC of England.

Now at Atalanta, Ademola Lookman has proved himself to be the lethal striker that can be counted upon at the right time.

In the just concluded season, Ademola Lookman crowned his efforts by emerging as the “Man of the Match” in an UEFA Europa league final, scoring a hat-trick, thus becoming the first and only African to achieve such a feat.

The Atalanta striker was also named in the 2023/24 Europa league’s “Team of the Season.

He was selected by UEFA’s Technical Observer panel for his hat-trick against Bayer Leverkusen and five goals and one assist in the Europa league this season.

Many Nigerians have been sending congratulatory messages to Lookman who has all followed the footsteps of great Nigerian players such as Kanu Nwankwo, (UEFA Champions League, Ajax Amsterdam).

On the list are: Finidi George (UEFA Champions League, Ajax Amsterdam), Mikel Obi, (UEFA Champions League, Chelsea of England), Taribo West (UEFA Europa league winner at Inter Milan), Chidi Odiah (UEFA Europa league winner at CSKA Moscow), and Victor Moses (UEFA Europa League winner at Chelsea).

The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan-Enoh, in recognition of Lookman’s efforts, showered encomiums on Super Eagles winger for his extraordinary performance in the Europa League final.

In his congratulatory message, the minister praised Lookman’s exceptional talent and dedication, which had brought immense pride to Nigerians.

”Ademola Lookman has demonstrated remarkable skill and resilience, leading Atalanta to a historic victory.

“His performance in the Europa League final was nothing short of spectacular, and he has made Nigeria proud on the global stage.

“We celebrate his achievement and look forward to many more milestones in his career with club and country,” he said.

Also, the Super Eagles Head Coach, Finidi George, reserved some beautiful words of admiration for the brilliant Lookman, describing him as one of the best thing that has happened to the senior national team.

He said: ”For me, as a Nigerian, I am happy that our players are putting up such good displays and doing well in Europe. This is the best times for Nigerians playing in the Europe.

”Ademola Lookman is a player we need and we love him and I am glad that he had a spectacular performance.

”I sent him a message to congratulate him, and not him alone, but Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella.”

A former Nigerian player, Benedict Akwuegbu, described Lookman as an intelligent player that make big impacts in the senior national team.

“Lookman is a big man for the moment and the country should be counting on him for success in subsequent matches.

“Lookman is an intelligent striker that can make the difference, we saw that in the last AFCON when he singlehandedly sent Ivory Coast crashing,” he said.

Other Nigerians are of the opinion that now that the World Cup qualifiers are approaching, the Super Eagles will be rest assured that Lookman will once again turn up for the team to win crucial matches.

They also expressed their respective expectations that the Nigerian players’ performances for their clubs in Europe would expectedly offer healthy competitions among the players.

According to them, national team coaches will now have a wider pool of players to select from.

What do you think?


Written by Nike

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