Emenike defends Nigerian forward after sensational performance
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Emenike defends Nigerian forward after sensational performance

23/05/24 12:36

In an exclusive interview with FootballPark.com, former Nigerian International Emmanuel Emenike has hit back at a UK news site, whilst praising the performance of Ademola Lookman.

“This is a massive achievement for the nation of Nigeria,” said Emenike, speaking on Lookman’s superb hat-trick in the Europa League final on Wednesday, clinching a European title for Atalanta in the process.

“However, as a Nigerian I feel very disappointed with this headline. This achievement has never been done in the history of the game. There’s not enough focus on what he’s achieved.”

Emenike is referring to a headline released by British news site The Mirror in reaction to the Europa League Final. The headline initially read “Everton flop Ademola Lookman hits hat-trick as Atalanta end Leverkusen run to win Europa League.”

The original and later changed headlines from The Mirror

The Mirror have since changed the headline to: “Ademola Lookman hits hat-trick as Atalanta end Leverkusen run to win Europa League.”

The original headline from The Mirror, refers to Lookman’s time whilst at Premier League side Everton. Who he signed for in 2017, before leaving for RB Leipzig on a permanent deal in 2019. Whilst Lookman only ever scored four times for the Merseyside club, he was only 19 when he first arrived.

Lookman went on to rebuild his career first in Germany for Leipzig, before an eventual move to Atalanta in 2022. In Italy, the Nigerian forward has flourished, with 30 goals in two seasons.

“Nowadays journalism is just about clicks and likes,” continued Emenike, speaking on the original headline from The Mirror. “The whole of Africa is united in congratulating this achievement.

“To see a Nigerian name three times in the final… It makes me very proud of my countryman.”

Lookman became the first ever African player to score two goals in the final of a major European competition against Leverkusen, before sealing his hat-trick with a stunning left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

In the process, becoming the first ever player in the history of the game to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final.

Since Lookman left Everton in 2019, the club hasn’t finished higher than 10th. They’ve also been battling relegation for the past three campaigns in the English top-flight.

There was also outrage from Nigeria when the Sky Sports Football X page released their full-time graphic from the match, which didn’t include Lookman. Instead, former West Ham United striker Gianluca Scamacca and midfielder Teun Koopmeiners.

The post sparked back-lash on X, even bringing one user to change the graphic themselves.

“It’s important that the youngsters see the hard work from this boy,” said Emenike. “To keep working hard and keep believing in yourself. You can always reach the highest heights. Ademola is a great example of a Nigerian athlete.

“This will go down in Nigerian history. It will be added to the list of Nigerian greats in European football.”

Emenike himself, won the 2013 AFCON with Nigeria. Like Ademola, the striker made a habit of working hard and building his career up. Going on to become a league champion for Turkish giants Fenerbahce, whilst playing for West Ham, Spartak Moscow, Al-Ain, Olympiacos amongst several teams.

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