Atalanta’s hat trick hero Ademola Lookman writes himself into European soccer history

There was an unexpected answer on Wednesday to the question of who would score the first hat-trick in a men’s European club final since 1975.

Ademola Lookman scored all three goals against Atalanta 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen To win the Europa League title and both had a lot to admire.

Offside into the penalty area, balance on the ball, skillful movement and precise shooting with both feet were factors that contributed to the outstanding performance.

However, even Atalanta coach, Gian Piero Gasperini, admitted he was not buying a pure striker when Lookman arrived at the club two years ago.

“He was not overly prolific in England,” Gasperini said of the player who was bought from RB Leipzig, but has spent the past two years on loan at Fulham and Leicester City in the Premier League.

Lookman was also a winger at Everton, but also found his way through the net there after being let out on loan to Leipzig and then sold.

Lookman joined Atalanta aged almost 25, and has never scored 10 goals in a season. He has now scored 15 goals in each of his two seasons in Italy.

The London-born Nigerian international offered a range of thoughts after the match on why he is thriving.

Love and support from his family and African home. The confidence he felt from Gasperini’s management. Calm life in the picturesque city of Bergamo.

“The unwavering support I get and the love I get back home from people is incredible,” said Lookman, who won the Under-20 World Cup with England before changing his eligibility to play for Nigeria in 2022. “It gives me the motivation to try and inspire.” myself.”

Regarding Gasperini, who worked in coaching for 20 years in Italian clubs, he said: “The first few conversations I had with him made me look at football a lot differently. I made things simpler in my mind, and played my game in a different light.

For the former London and Liverpool resident, Lookman said his new city “gives me a sense of calm. “It has helped me a lot in terms of my lifestyle.”

Lookman’s family were with him on the field on Wednesday, helping him show Atalanta the trophy he helped secure – the club’s first major trophy in 61 years.

“I have so much love for the people I call family. I owe them so much,” he said.

“We need the best version of Ademola,” Atalanta captain Berat Djemsiti said he told Lookman before the match.

“I see it myself in every training,” Gemsetti said. “It is difficult to play against him, and today he was amazing.”

Atalanta will be participating in the Champions League next season and should have Lookman for a full season. He was away from Nigeria during January for the Africa Cup of Nations.

“He had a great year, even though it was interrupted by the Africa Cup of Nations,” Gasperini said. “He’s been gone for a long time.”

Lookman now makes European football history as the first hat-trick to score in a club final since Jupp Heynckes for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the UEFA Cup in 1975. That came in a 5-1 win over Twente in the second leg of what was then a two-legged final.

Among the few men to have scored a hat-trick in European finals are Real Madrid greats Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stéfano, more than 60 years ago.

Now, in this list, Gasperini said Lookman “established himself as a match-winner.”


AP Football: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer

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