Finidi reacts to Lookman's spectacular display, confirms Atalanta hat-trick hero is in squad for 2026 WCQs

Published: May 23, 2024
Finidi reacts to Lookman's spectacular display, confirms Atalanta hat-trick hero is in squad for 2026 WCQs

Nigeria manager Finidi George was on media duties on Wednesday and one of the topics he touched on was Ademola Lookman's spectacular display during Atalanta's win against Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final at the Dublin Arena. 

The Europa League final had focused on Atalanta's Netherlands international Teun Koopmeiners and much-coveted Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz who have directly participated in 60 goals between them in 2023-2024.

However it was Lookman that stole the show by being the first player in history to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final as Atalanta thrashed Bayer Leverkusen 3-0.

The former Everton man suffered heartbreak in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations as Nigeria were beaten 2-1 by Ivory Coast but the Super Eagles got to the showpiece largely due to the performance of Lookman, who was involved in four goals during the tournament. 

Lookman was recognized for his impressive display at the AFCON, with Confederation of African Football Technical Study Group naming him in the Best XI.

Finidi expressed delight with Lookman's performance in the Europa League final and more or less confirmed that the Atalanta star has been named in the Super Eagles squad for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin after mentioning that he is looking forward to his arrival in camp for the June internationals. 

Speaking to reporters, Finidi said: "For me as a Nigerian I am delighted, I'm happy pur players are performing, doing so well in Europe. This is the best time for Nigerians that are playing in Europe.

"Ademola is a player that we need. We love him and I'm glad for him that he had that spectacular performance yesterday. I sent him a message to congratulate him, not just him, Boniface and Tella.

"For a very long time we've not had players doing so well in Europe and me being the head coach of Super Eagles I think it's wonderful for me. We need all these players to come back home and perform for us.

"As a Nigerian I'm so delighted and I'm happy for Lookman that his team has won the Europa League and him scoring three goals which has not happened in a very long time, or maybe in the history of the Europa League so I'm quite happy for him and looking forward to having him in camp."

Since the beginning of 2024, Lookman has participated in every match played by the Super Eagles, bringing his total appearances for the national team to 21 since his debut in a World Cup qualifier against Ghana in March 2022.

Ifeanyi Emmanuel 

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