Finidi picks Lookman, Osimhen and others for Eagles’ World Cup qualifier | The Guardian Nigeria News

Super Eagles and Italy’s Atalanta FC striker Ademola Lookman, who made history on Wednesday night by scoring a hat-trick for his European trophy-winning club, believes his decision to switch allegiance to Nigeria has been the strength behind his transition to a great player.

Lookman is the first African player to achieve a hat-trick in a final of one of the major European competitions and the second player to achieve it in a final of a major European competition for an Italian team, after Pierino Prati with Milan, against Ajax. in the 1969 European Cup.

“The unwavering support and love I receive from our people in Nigeria is incredible,” he said. “It gives me the motivation to inspire myself in different areas, not only in my game but also as a person.”

Lookman added that the support has taken him to a new level. “Competing in the AFCON in January, unfortunately we lost in the finals, but I think the whole tournament catapulted us back to being the Eagles. That is incredible.”

Lookman scored three goals to inspire Atalanta to win their first major European trophy, becoming the first Italian team to win the UEFA Cup/Europa League since Parma in 1999.

The Nigerian’s goals also ended Bayer Leverkusen’s 51-match unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Lookman switched his allegiance from England to Nigeria in 2022 and made his debut for the Super Eagles in March of the same year in a goalless draw against Ghana in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.

He has appeared a further 20 times, scoring six goals, including all three in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast against Cameroon and one in the quarter-finals against Angola. He has also provided four assists.