Every child who has spent his childhood next to a soccer ball has imagined being signed by a professional club while playing a game with his friends, hunted by a timely scout. A dream that came true for Ademola Lookman (26), the new god of Atalanta after scoring a hat trick against Bayer Leverkusen by the unbeatable Xabi Alonso in the Europa League final (3-0) conquered by La Dea (goddess in Italian ).

The striker born in London, to Nigerian parents, experienced another reality in his childhood, when he played with Waterloo in the amateur Sunday League. Until 2014, a member of Charlton Athletic organized a duel between the London club’s under-16 team and Lookman’s team to see his performance. Nothing more was needed. “He came late to the academy, but he played naturally,” Charlton’s Jason Euell said. 

At that time, the footballer had a difficult life, with his mother taking care of him and his two sisters thanks to a precarious job as a cleaner. Meanwhile, his father lived in Nigeria, the country he represents on the national team. “We lived in a bad area of ​​London with an empty fridge,” Lookman recalled, and how his mother taught him “sacrifice.” 

Soon the hardships mutated into illusions. Become a young talent, champion of the U-20 World Cup with England in 2017, Everton paid 8 million and opened the door to the Premier for him. Without minutes with Liverpool, in 2019 RB Leipzig bet heavily on his services with the payment of 18 million. But it was then that he began a carousel of transfers, including that of Fulham. Despite scoring only four goals, he was an undisputed starter for the London team in a season where Craven Cottage’s team was relegated to the Championship.

Lookman’s promising emergence slowed down, with fewer and fewer opportunities, little by little his poster dwindling. In the Bundesliga, defending the jersey of the energy drink club, he also did not find the necessary consistency. Finally, and after his umpteenth loan to Leicester, the forward found his place in Bergamo in the summer of 2022. 

At Atalanta, who signed him for nine million, he has shown his best version since he landed late in the usual channels of professional football. In his first season he scored 13 goals and in the current campaign, with two Serie A games left to play, he has already accumulated 14 goals, almost always starting. The reason for his good performance is found, in large part, on the bench. 

“Gasperini has supported me by giving me minutes and playing attacking football. In each conversation the coach showed me that he could play a totally different kind of football. “He taught me to think differently and took me to a new level,” the striker explained after the Europa League final about the veteran coach of the Bergamo team, where he has consolidated the dream he pursued as a child on Sundays in fields with the tall grass, with bars instead of stands and locker rooms with cold showers. “One of the best nights of my life,” added Lookman after achieving glory in Dublin.