Lookman overcomes early career struggles to make history with Europa League glory

Ademola Lookman’s outstanding performance in the Europa League final saw him rise from the shadows of early career struggles to glory.

Lookman, a past penalty misser for Fulham when it mattered the most, secured Atalanta’s first-ever European trophy against a perfect Bayer Leverkusen side.

The Nigerian ace forward winger’s hat-trick led his team to a 3-0 victory over Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen, ending their 51-game unbeaten streak.

Lookman’s flawless display in Dublin marked a major turnaround from November 2020, when his failed Panenka penalty for Fulham against West Ham left him in headlines for the wrong reasons.

Lookman overcomes early career struggles to make history with Europa League glory
Lookman with his hat-trick ball after making history against Leverkusen in Europa League Final – Getty image

His chipped attempt was easily saved by the Hammers goalkeeper, resulting in a 1-0 defeat for Fulham.

That moment, now a distant memory, was a stark contrast to his heroics in the final for Atalanta.

Lookman’s rise has been both thorny and remarkable. Starting in Sunday League football with Waterloo in South London.

He was scouted by Charlton Athletic in 2014, after many rejections from different academies.

After impressing at Charlton, he moved to Everton in January 2017 for £7.5 million.

Despite limited game time at Everton and loan spells at RB Leipzig, Fulham, and Leicester, Lookman found his feet after signing permanently with Atalanta in 2022.

In the just concluded final, Lookman’s clinical finishing was on full display.

His first goal came from a fine pull-back by Davide Zappacosta, followed by a solo effort where he nutmegged Granit Xhaka and curled a shot into the bottom corner.

He completed his hat-trick with a powerful strike from a tight angle, becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final.

After the encounter, Lookman expressed his joy to TNT Sports, calling it “one of the best nights of my life.”

He celebrated Atalanta’s historic win, saying, “Amazing performance from the team, we did it, we did it, we did it Fantastic.

“They do always say third time lucky, so yeah, it is for us today [winning a final at the third attempt this season],” he remarked.

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