Europa League FalI-Out: I’ve always had confidence in my ability, says Lookman

Rave of the moment, Super Eagles and Atalanta FC striker, Ademola Lookman, has described his performance at the Europa Cup final against Bayer Leverkusen as normal, saying he has always had confidence in his ability to deliver on the big stage.

Lookman was the hero on Wednesday night as his historic hat trick earned Atalanta its first title since 1963.

The Nigerian struck twice in the first half and added the third goal in the second half for the Italian side, to end Bayer Leverkusen’s 51-match unbeaten run in the final of the UEFA Europa Cup.

The former Everton star, who played a vital role in the Super Eagles’ second-placefinish at the last AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire, scooped three awards on the night, winning the match ball for his hat trick, Player of the Match and the Europa Cup title.

Lookman is the first player to score a hat trick in a European Cup final since 1975. The last was by Jupp Heynkes, who scored a hat trick for Borussia Monchengladbach way back in the 1975 UEFA Cup final.

“In the past two years, I have been able to take my game to a new level and show it on a more consistent basis,” an excited Lookman said.

“Maybe, it could have come earlier but it’s come now. I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made but this is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this,” he said.

The London-born player was signed from German side, RB Leipzig, in 2022 and was the centre of all attention on Wednesday night at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. It is Atalanta first European final.

Italy has become a new training ground for Nigerian heroes, with Lookman’s heroics coming a year after Victor Osimhen hugged the headlines as Napoli ran to their first league title in over 30 years.

That feat propelled Osimhen to win the Africa Footballer of the Year award, and now pundits are tipping Lookman to succeed his compatriot.

Excited by Lookman’s performance on Wednesday night, Super Eagles’ Coach, Finidi George, praised the Atalanta star and Bayer Leverkusen forwards, Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella for flying Nigeria’s flag at the highest stage of European football.

George wrote on his X page: “Watching Ademola Lookman, Nathan Tella, and Victor Boniface in the Europa League final was a thing of joy and national pride. Well done, guys. And what a performance that was from Lookman.”

Also speaking on Lookman’s performance, proprietor of Cable Football Academy, Edwin Onovwotafe,told The Guardian: “I fell in love with Lookman’s pattern of play at the last AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire. He is very strong and that is what Nigerian players are known for.

“I watched the match on Wednesday night, and I am so excited that Lookman lived up to my expectations by helping Atlanta to win the Europa League they have not won for years. I am sure this will encourage Italian clubs to sign more Nigerian players. I know by now Ademola’s name will be in the mouth of every Atalanta citizen in Italy.

“We are expecting him to help the Super Eagles beat both South Africa and Benin Republic in our World Cup qualifiers next month. Congratulations to him,” Onovwotafe stated.

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