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Ademola Lookman: Atalanta striker’s hat-trick ‘beyond anyone’s wildest dreams’

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Ademola Lookman became the first player to score a hat-trick in a one-match Europa League final

  • Author, Chris Peddy and Chris Slegg
  • Role, BBC Sport London

Ademola Lookman’s hat-trick to win the Europa League was “beyond anyone’s wildest dreams”, said his former academy coach at Charlton Athletic, Steve Avery.

The 26-year-old Nigerian international scored three spectacular, unanswered goals for Atalanta as the Italian side ended Xabi Alonso and Bayer Leverkusen’s 361-day unbeaten streak with a 3-0 victory in the final in Dublin.

But Lookman took on the Bundesliga champions.

He sneaked in at the far post in the first, curled the ball into the bottom corner with his right foot in the second, before firing into the top right corner with his left to complete the first hat-trick in a major European final. since Jupp Heynckes with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1975 UEFA Cup.

‘It was written in the stars’

A clip of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski easily saving Panenka’s penalty attempt from Lookman during a loan spell at Fulham circulated on social media after the match, showing how transformative this performance was.

But for Avery, director of Charlton academy, the quality was always there.

“It was very exciting to see. That second and third goal. I’ve seen it done here so it doesn’t surprise me,” he told BBC Sport London.

“You always wanted him to have the ball, you weren’t sure what would happen sometimes, but you knew there was a good chance that would excite you.

“I don’t think anyone would have imagined that would have happened.”

But long before that, as a boy growing up in Wandsworth, south London, he played for Waterloo FC between the ages of nine and 16.

Oliver Reynolds was one of his coaches and said he saw the “Lookman of old” against Leverkusen.

“I woke up this morning and said ‘pinch me because I’m pretty sure it was a dream’; we loved every minute of it,” he said.

“But, man, it was written in the stars for Ademola Lookman.”

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Ademola Lookman scores his second goal of the night at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

“He plays for a club that believes in him”

That would be his only Premier League goal for the club as he was limited to just seven starts in two seasons at Goodison Park.

A six-month loan spell at RB Leipzig followed, and a year later in 2019, he moved permanently to the Red Bull Arena.

After just one Bundesliga start and no league goals, Lookman was loaned out again and returned to London with Fulham.

He scored four goals for the Cottagers as they were relegated from the Premier League under Scott Parker and spent the 2021-22 season on loan with Leicester City, scoring eight goals in all competitions as the Foxes finished eighth in the top flight.

Over five and a half seasons, he started 62 of his 118 league games. He removes his Fulham spell and that becomes 31 starts in 84.

Since moving to Atalanta in 2022, he has played 76 games and started 52 of them.

“He’s been playing at that elite level, but the difference here is that he’s playing for a club that clearly believes in continuing to work with him and develop him, and in him building a relationship with them as well,” Avery said. .

“Now he has fully established himself in that club, in that league, and now he is right up there in terms of his European achievements.”

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Clips of Ademola Lookman’s missed Panenka penalty for Fulham circulated on social media after the Europa League final.

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