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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the Aviva Stadium

Lookman's unforgettable night for Atalanta in Dublin was 'no surprise' to the former Charlton player

The amazing thing was that he wasn't amazed.

Still wearing the boots he was in when he walked off the pitch following his hat-trick turn in Dublin, he wore the look of someone who had just completed a mundane day in the office rather than someone entitled to be bathed in euphoria after a moment of sporting greatness.

But Ademola Lookman's post-match press conference appearance revealed a very matter-of-fact belief in his abilities.

Maybe it was that deadpan approach which had helped him shut out the doubts and any sense of pressure. His finishes were breathtaking. His performance sensational in a superb Atalanta team display that blew Bayer Leverkusen away in Wednesday night's Europa League final. And that was a German team that had gone unbeaten in 51 games in all competitions. This was no ordinary opponent.

It was surely a scenario that the 26-year-old could not have dreamt of when he was taking his first steps into pro football with Charlton Athletic in 2015. Or indeed when he was taking faltering steps on loan at Fulham a couple of years ago.

He made 45 appearances, scoring 10 goals in two years at the Valley before moving on, but seemingly struggled to find the ideal home until he pitched up at Atalanta - and took up the option to play for Nigeria, having started international life in England youth teams.

Could he really have envisaged a night like this back in those days? The answer, he told Capital Football, was : Yes, probably, yes," He said it unhesitatingly and without a trace of over-excitement.

"I've always had the confidence in my ability to create, to score and to help my team-mates," he continued. "In the past two years, I've been able to take my game to a new level and been able to show that on a more consistent basis.

"Maybe it would have come earlier, but it's come now. I'm pleased with the progress that I've made. This is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this and I just hope to progress and get better and better. That's the key.

"I want to improve in every single area that I can - whether that's in football or out of football."

Speaking about the 3-0 victory, and the influence of his boss in Bergamo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Lookman said: "I think from the first minute we showed our intent. We had a fantastic first half and second half we didn't rest on our laurels.

"When I first came to the club, the first few conversations that I had with him [Gasperini], he made in central in my mind what he expected of me and allowed me to look at my game in a different light and I'm very grateful to him. He's done a lot for me and done a lot for the club.

"I felt the support of the fans from the first minute I was in Bergamo and the city of Bergamo gives me a sense of calmness. It's a very calm city, very relaxed and that's helped me a lot in terms of my living style. It's just made things simpler for me."

He certainly made it look simple on a night when he could do no wrong. Three sublime finishes. Made in Floyd Road.


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