Ademola lookman shines as atalanta triumphs in historic europa league final.

Ademola Lookman emerged as Atalanta’s hat-trick hero on the club’s greatest night in Dublin, leading the Italian side to a stunning 3-0 victory over German champions Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

Leverkusen arrived in the Irish capital unbeaten in 51 games this season and on the cusp of a remarkable treble. However, it was Atalanta’s ascent under Gian Piero Gasperini that reached its pinnacle.

Lookman, an unlikely figure to score the first hat-trick in a European final since 1975, exemplifies the shrewd recruitment and excellent coaching from Gasperini that have enabled a provincial club to emerge from the shadows of nearby giants AC and Inter Milan.

Born in England and a product of the Charlton Athletic youth academy, Lookman first gained attention with a move to Everton before joining RB Leipzig. Despite struggling for first-team opportunities at both clubs and enduring loan spells at Fulham and Leicester, Lookman found his way to Bergamo through the influence of Atalanta’s former head of sport, Lee Congerton, who had previously worked at Leicester. Now, Lookman is celebrated in northern Italy as the architect of the finest victory in Atalanta’s 116-year history.

“No one ever imagined he could make this much progress,” said Gasperini. “He did something that will remain in the annals of history. He has carried himself as an incredible player and a match-winner.”

Lookman’s treble brought his tally to 30 goals in two seasons with the club. He also played a key role in propelling Nigeria to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations this year and believes his career is ready to soar at the age of 26.

“I’ve always had confidence in my ability,” Lookman stated. “In the past few years, I’ve been able to elevate my game and show that on a more consistent basis. I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, but this is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this.”

Polishing Rough Diamonds

Lookman is one of several rough diamonds polished by Gasperini, who has transformed Atalanta into a formidable force in Serie A and on the European stage. This season, Lookman formed a fearsome front three with Charles De Ketelaere and Gianluca Scamacca, who both joined after challenging spells at AC Milan and West Ham, respectively.

“The first few conversations I had with him made me look at football differently,” Lookman added. “He simplified things in my mind and made me view my game in a new light.”

Gasperini emphasized that it wasn’t a single trophy that validated his work over the past eight years. “I never believed one trophy would change our journey. The run we have been on is worth more than one piece of silverware,” said the 66-year-old coach. “The game we played tonight is the result of our journey.”

Acknowledging the significance of Atalanta’s first major trophy in 61 years and the first of his coaching career, Gasperini noted that it was a rare victory for the underdog in a sport typically dominated by wealthier clubs.

“Winning it with Atalanta is one of those football fairytales that rarely acknowledges meritocracy,” Gasperini remarked. “It shows that success doesn’t always come down to cold hard numbers or super leagues. Teams without huge budgets can achieve big things.”