Ademola Lookman Set for CAF Footballer of the Year Award

Come December, when the Africa Footballer of the Year would be announced, one name that will surely be in the forefront of CAF choice is Super Eagles and Atalanta winger, Ademola Lookman. After a scintillating season with his Serie A side where his hat-trick won the Europa Cup for the La Dea. It therefore came as no surprise when he was named Atalanta’s Best Player of the Season after his 27-goal contributions accross all competitions  

After an impressive performance at the last Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, Ademola Lookman emerged as the hero for Atalanta in the Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen  where his hat-trick won the trophy for the La Dea.

The 27-year-old winger has been a revelation for Atalanta this season. While he consistently delivered impressive performances in Serie A, it was his dominant display on the biggest stage that truly announced him to the world.

In the Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen, Lookman stole the show, bagging a sensational hat-trick to secure Atalanta’s first-ever European trophy.

This feat etched Lookman’s name in history, becoming the first African player to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final, and only the sixth player ever to achieve such a feat in a major UEFA competition final.

Lookman’s impact goes beyond his heroics in the final. He has been a key figure for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side throughout the season, contributing a total of 15 goals and eight assists across all competitions. His versatility and attacking threat have been crucial for Atalanta’s success in both Serie A and the Europa League.

Lookman’s impressive form extends to international duty. He was a key player for the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), earning a place in the Team of the Tournament after scoring three goals, assisting two and helping Nigeria reach the final.

Though the Africa Footballer of the Year award is still about five months away, Lookman is almost the sure bet to cart home the award. Ahead of the award however, compatriot, Wilfred Ndidi, is backing the Atalanta man to cart away the prize ahead of holder, Victor Osimhen.

“In all honesty, I think Ademola (Lookman) stands a better chance to winning it. Though both he and Osimhen have done well for their clubs, but Ademola stands a better chance,” Ndidi said.

Lookman was recently named the Best African International Footballer at the Ghana Football Awards in Accra.

The Atalanta star received the award after a remarkable season with Nigeria’s Super Eagles and his Italian club. Lookman scored a hat-trick to help Atalanta beat Bayer Leverkusen and win the UEFA Europa League last season.

He outperformed Victor Boniface and Bayer Leverkusen’s Edmund Tapsoba to clinch the title. Lookman succeeds Napoli forward Victor Osimhen, who won last year after leading his team to the Serie A title and later secured the CAF Africa’s Best Player award.

Lookman is now a strong contender for Africa’s top individual football award this year. In a video message, he expressed his gratitude: “Thank you for the consideration, the recognition, and the votes. This means a lot to me and my family. I wish I was in Ghana, but my heart is with you all. Thank you and God bless.”

The former Fulham and Leicester City player had a standout year, guiding Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations final and scoring a hat-trick in the Europa League final.

He also played a key role in Atalanta’s fourth-place finish in Serie A, with 17 goals and 10 assists across all competitions.

Lookman’s performances have caught the attention of top European clubs and interest from Saudi Arabia.

The former Fulham loanee however saw his dream of clinching Atalanta’s Goal of the Season award narrowly slip through his fingers. The Super Eagles winger was pipped at the post by Colombian forward Luis Muriel in a nail-biting, competitive voting session.

The best of Atalanta’s 106 goals during the 2023/24 season were drawn into six groups. Lookman had his excellent second goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the final of the Europa League dominate Group A while his third goal against the Germans made it out of Group D.

The two goals, however, faced off in the quarterfinals where that sumptuous second striker versus Bayer Leverkusen advanced to the next stage.

The goal then saw off the challenge of Ruggeri’s tomahawk against Olympique Marseille in the semifinal of the contest, winning with 73% of the votes cast.

In the final, Lookman’s goal stood against Muriel’s audacious backheel against AC Milan and it was the Colombian star’s strike that ultimately captured the hearts and votes of the fans.

The goal netted in injury time to hand Atalanta a 3-2 win over Milan won 53 per cent of the final vote and ended Lookman’s quest for a treble of titles.

Despite the narrow miss, Lookman’s achievements this season remain remarkable, having already bagged Atalanta’s Player of the Month for May-June and the Player of the Season awards.

Lookman emerged as the Atalanta ‘Player of the Season’ following his spectacular 2023/2024 session for the Italian side that culminated in the team winning the Europa League title for the first time.

The Nigerian forward won the coveted award back-to-back at the Bergamo-based side. Atalanta announced Lookman as the winner on the club’s official website.

According to Atalanta: “It’s him again, Ademola Lookman! The reigning champion defends his title and is crowned straight-a student for the second year in a row after staving off an unsparing competition, to the point of both bringing the contest to an overtime runoff and stepping the pose down up to the Instagram profile after the regular session ended in a tie. Kudos to Molafor his back-to-back Player of the Season!” it noted. The club said further that,” building on his 17 goals and 11 key passes in all competitions (making him the team’s second-best seasonal scorer) and with the hat-trick scored in the magical Dublin final as his main leg-up, Lookman tips the ItalianOptic branded crown once again,” the web remarked.

The Nigerian had a brilliant AFCON experience with Super Eagles who finished as runners up in Côte d’Ivoire where he scored three goals in the tournament.

His exploits for both club and country now puts him in strong contention to win the next ‘African Footballer of the Year’ award which will come up before the end of the year at a venue yet to be announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Osimhen is the reigning winner of the award.

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