‘Just the beginning’ – Atalanta hat-trick hero Lookman eyes more glory nights


Ademola Lookman etched himself into Atalanta folklore with a Europa League final hat-trick that he says didn’t catch him by surprise – although boss Gian Piero Gasperini admitted nobody could have expected his progress.

The London-born Nigeria winger became only the sixth player to score a hat-trick in a European final – the first since Jupp Heynckes for Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1975 Uefa Cup – with all three goals in the Italian side’s win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin.

That is the Bayer Leverkusen side led by Xabi Alonso, which had not lost a single game of football for 361 days.

Lookman, 26, had never managed double figures in a season for Charlton, Everton, RB Leipzig, Fulham or Leicester.

After this treble the former England Under-21 winger, who now represents Nigeria at international level, has netted 15 goals in each of his two seasons with Atalanta.

Gasperini said: “We had a senior manager at Atalanta [Lee Congerton] who had worked at Leicester, who saw the opportunity to bring him in and thought he was a possible useful player.

“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 was asked afterwards if he could have imagined this growing up in Wandsworth and when he started out at Charlton’s academy.

“Probably, yeah,” he replied. “I’ve always had the confidence in my ability.

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