Europa LeagueNigerian Footballers Abroad

Ademola Lookman hat-trick hands Atalanta Europa League title

Super Eagles striker Ademola Lookman bagged a hat-trick to hand Atalanta the Europa League title after a 3-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen.

Lookman took the game by storm with three well taken strikes that ended Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run in the 2023/2024 season.

In the 12th minute, Ademola Lookman fired Atalanta ahead to the shock of Leverkusen faithfuls who stormed Dublin as favourites to win the Europa League title to add to their German Bundesliga triumph.

Ademola Lookman made it 2-0 in the 26th minute, curling home after a solo run past two Leverkusen defenders. The Nigerian forward made the result safe I’m the final quarter when he fired a powerful left-foot shot into the net.

At full-time it was Italian Serie A side, Atalanta who celebrated a historic Europa League triumph while Leverkusen will turn attention to sealing a domestic double with the upcoming DFB Pokal final.

Nigerian stars, Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella came on as substitutes in the final but we’re unable to spoil the party for Ademola Lookman and his Atalanta teammates.

Gasperini praised Lookman’s transformation, saying, “We had a manager at Atalanta who had worked at Leicester and saw potential in him. No one could have predicted this much progress. He wasn’t a prolific scorer in England, but I changed his role to be more attacking. Tonight, he achieved something historic.”

Lookman reflected on his journey from Wandsworth to Charlton’s academy, stating, “I always believed in my ability. In the past two years, I’ve taken my game to a new level. I’m happy with my progress, but this is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this.”

After the final whistle, Lookman told TNT Sports, “It’s one of the best nights of my life.” He confirmed that a celebration was planned, saying, “We made history tonight.”

Joining Gasperini’s post-match press conference, Lookman expressed gratitude for the support he received from the club and coach. “The club and coach have supported me, giving me the minutes I needed to elevate my game. Our early conversations simplified football for me and helped me see the game differently.”

An Italian journalist joked that a street in Bergamo might be named after Lookman. The forward laughed and expressed his appreciation for the city’s support, adding that the calm and relaxed atmosphere of Bergamo has helped him stay focused.

Felix Emanus, Lookman’s mentor and former coach at Waterloo, was emotional after the game. “I cried when the third goal went in. I’m so happy for Ade. He works hard and always wants to improve.”

Atalanta’s victory is historic, marking only their second trophy in 116 years, the first being the 1963 Coppa Italia. Just last week, they lost the Coppa Italia final to Juventus. This win also makes them the first Italian team to win the Europa League since 1999.

Coach Gian Piero Gasperini, at 66 years old, is now the oldest coach to win the Europa League. He expressed immense pride in his team and their ability to balance financial sustainability with success. “Winning this trophy with Atalanta is like a football fairytale. It shows that success is possible without big budgets. Let’s savor this win before thinking about next season.”

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