Atalanta’s Gasperini Details How He Transformed Lookman Into a World-Class Star

Atalanta’s Gasperini Details How He Transformed Lookman Into a World-Class Star

Chukwu Ikechukwu
May 23, 2024 at 9:24 AM
In this article:
Ademola Lookman logo
A. Lookman
Atalanta logoFNigeria logo
Atalanta logo
UEFA Europa League logo
UEFA Europa League
Nigeria logo
Italy logo
Bayer Leverkusen logo
Bayer Leverkusen
  • Ademola Lookman was Atalanta’s star in the Europa League final
  • The Nigerian scored a hat-trick as Atalanta defeated Bayer Leverkusen
  • Lookman became the first player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League final

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Ademola Lookman produced a career-defining performance in the Europa League final as Atalanta cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, May 22.

The 26-year-old forward scored all three goals for the Italian giants who were rated as underdogs coming into the final against Xabi Alonso’s team that had been unbeaten in 51 consecutive games.

Ademola Lookman, Europa League, Atalanta, Nigeria, Italy, Bayer Leverkusen
Ademola Lookman posing with the match-ball and Man of the Match award after netting a hat-trick in the Europa League final. Photo by Jonathan Moscrop.
Source: Getty Images

According to GOAL, Lookman entered the history books as the first African to score a hat-trick in the Europa League final as he ended Atalanta’s 61-year wait for a major silverware.

The Nigerian winger now leads the running to be crowned as the Africa Player of the Year after an incredible campaign that has seen him feature in three major finals this season.

Lookman was on the losing side at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final with Nigeria in February and also when Atalanta lost the Coppa Italia final to Juventus less than two weeks ago.

Gasperini impressed with Lookman’s progress

Meanwhile, Atalanta coach, Gian Piero Gasperini, has admitted nobody could have expected Lookman’s progress after the Nigerian singlehandedly won him his first trophy as manager, BBC reports.

The 26-year-old joined the Italians two seasons ago after struggling to find his footing in the Premier League and the Bundesliga since the start of his career as a 16-year-old at Charlton.

Gasperini disclosed he had to change Lookman’s playing position to transform the Nigerian into the player that is being celebrated today.

"Nobody could ever imagine he'd could make this much progress. He wasn't overly prolific in England. I changed his position to a more attacking role.
"Tonight, he achieved something which will remain in the annals of football history - a stunning hat-trick."

Lookman became only the sixth player to score a hat-trick in a European final and the first since Jupp Heynckes for Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1975 UEFA Cup.

How Lookman destroyed Bayer Leverkusen

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Lookman drew first blood against Bayer Leverkusen with a composed finish 12 minutes into the game, then doubled the lead with a stunning curling shot 14 minutes later.

The Nigerian completed his hat-trick with a powerful left-footed strike into the top corner, becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final.

Chukwu Ikechukwu photo
Chukwu Ikechukwu
Chukwu Ikechukwu Godwin is a journalist with over 9 years of experience in the Nigerian media industry. He has worked both in Radio (Today FM, Rhythm FM, Wish FM) and Television (Silverbird TV) as a Sports Analyst..