Nigeria: Lookman Joins Esteemed List, Says Playing for Eagles Has Elevated Him

Lookman became just the fifth player and first African to score a hat-trick in a European Cup final

Ademola Lookman scored three goals in the UEFA Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, 22 June, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, to join a select cast of European greats.

Outstanding players like Ferenc Puskás, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Pierino Prati, and Jupp Heynckes have written their names in history by scoring three or more goals in European Cup finals, and Lookman became the first African and Nigerian to create that history.

The 26-year-old forward scored in the 12th, 26th, and 75th minutes to confirm Italian side Atalanta as Europa League winners, the first time in La Dea's 117-year history and 61 years after their last title.

"I've always had the confidence in my ability to create, to score goals, and to help my teammates," the 26-year-old winger/forward said in the post-match press conference.

"In the past two years, I've been able to take my game to a whole new level. Maybe [my best form] could have come earlier, but it's come now. This is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this and to just keep getting better and better."

Lookman, a key contributor to the Super Eagles' run to the Africa Cup of Nations final with three goals, said representing Nigeria has significantly boosted his performance and self-esteem.

After switching nationalities in 2022, Lookman said representing Nigeria has been a transformative experience, elevating his skills and personal growth.

He had won the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup with England before changing sides in 2022 when FIFA approved his nationality switch.

"It's incredible [to play for Nigeria]," he explained. "The support and the love I get back home from the people is unbelievable. It gives me the motivation to evolve in different areas--as a person, not just in my game."

Lookman will be one of the first names on Finidi George's list as the Eagles continue their 2026 World Cup qualification quest against South Africa and Benin Republic in June.

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