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    Monday, July 8, 2024

    Ademola Lookman: A Potential Candidate for CAF Footballer of the Year Award.


    In December, when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announces the African Footballer of the Year, Super Eagles and Atalanta winger Ademola Lookman is expected to be a prominent contender. Lookman had an outstanding season with Atalanta, contributing significantly to the club’s success. His hat-trick secured the Europa Cup for La Dea, and he was subsequently recognized as Atalanta’s Best Player of the Season for his 27-goal contributions across all competitions.

    After a remarkable display at the recent Africa Cup of Nations held in Cote d’Ivoire, Ademola Lookman emerged as the pivotal figure for Atalanta in the Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen. His exceptional performance, marked by a remarkable hat-trick, proved instrumental in securing the prestigious trophy for the Italian club.

    The 27-year-old winger has demonstrated exceptional talent and has been a key contributor to Atalanta’s success this season. His consistent performance in Serie A and particularly his dominant display on the international stage have garnered significant attention and recognition.

    During the Europa League final match against Bayer Leverkusen, Lookman demonstrated exceptional performance by scoring a remarkable hat-trick, which ultimately led to Atalanta securing its inaugural European trophy.

    This accomplishment secured Lookman’s place in history as the inaugural African player to achieve a hat-trick in a Europa League final, joining an elite group of only six players to accomplish such a feat in a prominent UEFA competition final.

    Lookman’s contributions extend beyond his heroic performance in the final match. He has consistently played a pivotal role for Gian Piero Gasperini’s team throughout the season. Lookman’s impressive statistics, including 15 goals and eight assists across various competitions, underscore his versatility and offensive prowess. These attributes have been instrumental in Atalanta's achievements in both Serie A and the Europa League.

    Lookman’s remarkable performance extends to his international responsibilities. He played a pivotal role for the Nigerian national team during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), securing a position in the tournament's best eleven. His contributions included scoring three goals, providing two assists, and aiding Nigeria in reaching the final match.

    Although the African Footballer of the Year award ceremony is still approximately five months away, Lookman is the most likely candidate to receive the honor. Prior to the event, his compatriot, Wilfred Ndidi, expressed his support for the Atalanta player to win the award over the current 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 honored as the top African International Footballer at the Ghana Football Awards ceremony in Accra.

    The renowned Atalanta athlete received the accolade after an outstanding season with both the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles, and his Italian club. Lookman made history by scoring three goals, playing a crucial role in Atalanta's win against Bayer Leverkusen, ultimately securing their success in the UEFA Europa League last season.

    Lookman has outperformed the achievements of Victor Boniface and Edmund Tapsoba from Bayer Leverkusen, thereby securing the esteemed title. Following in the footsteps of Victor Osimhen, a forward for Napoli, who claimed the honor last year by leading his team to the Serie A championship and subsequently receiving the CAF Africa’s Best Player award.

    Mr. Lookman has emerged as a prominent candidate for Africa’s most esteemed individual football honor this year. In a pre-recorded 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 remarkable year, leading the Nigerian national team to the Africa Cup of Nations final and scoring a hat-trick in the Europa League final.

    His contributions were instrumental in securing Atalanta’s impressive fourth-place finish in Serie A, with a remarkable tally of 17 goals and 10 assists across multiple competitions.

    Lookman’s exceptional performances have garnered significant attention from prominent European football clubs, as well as interest from a renowned Saudi Arabian entity.

    The ex-Fulham loanee, unfortunately, missed out on winning Atalanta's Goal of the Season award by a narrow margin. The Super Eagles winger was edged out by Colombian striker Luis Muriel in a fiercely contested voting process.

    The most outstanding 106 goals scored by Atalanta during the 2023/24 season have been categorized into six distinct groups. Notably, Lookman’s exceptional second goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final emerged as the standout performer in Group A, while his third goal against the same team successfully advanced from Group D.

    The two objectives, however, clashed in the quarterfinals, where the prolific second striker’s performance against Bayer Leverkusen propelled the team to the subsequent stage.

    The objective subsequently emerged victorious in the competition, surpassing the formidable challenge presented by Ruggeri’s tomahawk maneuver during the semifinal match against Olympique Marseille. This triumph was secured by garnering an impressive 73% of the total votes cast.

    In the final match, Lookman’s goal was the deciding factor, surpassing Muriel’s audacious backheel attempt against AC Milan. Ultimately, it was the Colombian star’s strike that resonated with the fans and secured their votes.

    The decisive goal scored during extra time secured Atalanta’s triumph over Milan with a 3-2 victory, capturing 53% of the final votes. Consequently, Lookman’s pursuit of a remarkable trifecta of titles came to an end.

    Despite the near miss, Lookman’s accomplishments this season are still noteworthy, as evidenced by his receipt of the Atalanta Player of the Month award for May-June and the Player of the Season honor.

    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 player had a remarkable experience during the African Cup of Nations tournament with the Super Eagles team, where they achieved the second-place position in Côte d’Ivoire. He demonstrated his exceptional skills by scoring three goals throughout the competition.

    His accomplishments for both his club and country have positioned him as a strong contender for the upcoming “African Footballer of the Year” award, which will be presented by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at a yet-to-be-disclosed location before the end of the year.

    Osimhen is the current holder of the aforementioned accolade.

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