Ademola Lookman and African stars who scored in European finals

Ademola Lookman and African stars who scored in European finals
Credit: Photo by Icon Sport

Ademola Lookman became the first African player to score a brace or a hat-trick in a major final of a European club competition after scoring three times against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night.

Atalanta locked horns against Bayer Leverkusen in the finals of the 2023/24 Europa League staged on 22 May 2024, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

It was a match-up that ended with a 3-0 scoreline which only a few would have predicted to end that way going into the game.

Atalanta were playing only their first final in Europe in 116 years of its existence, while Bayer Leverkusen halted a 22-year wait for another final berth in one of the grandest stages of European football.

Atalanta celebrate Europa League trophy
Atalanta captain Berat Gjimshiti, Ademola Lookman and teammates celebrate winning the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League final agaist Bayer Leverkusen at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Icon Sport

A historic night for Ademola Lookman

On a night the attention was mostly on a Bayer Leverkusen side that had gone unbeaten in 51 straight games this season, it was the Nigerian forward Ademola Lookman who took the spotlight after bagging a first-half brace and added a third with 15 minutes left, to join the list of African stars who scored in European finals.

Not only that, the 26-year-old also joined Alex Iwobi (2019 Europa League) and Joe Aribo (2022 Europa League) as the only three Nigerian players to score in a final of a major UEFA club competition.

Before tonight's win, Atalanta had only won one trophy since the club was founded in 1908, the 1963 Coppa Italia which they defeated Torino 3-1 in the final all thanks to a hat-trick by striker Angelo Domenghini.

After a painful loss to Juventus in the 2023/24 Coppa Italia, Atalanta produced a performance that will go down in the club's folklore after claiming just their second trophy from another hat-trick performance, this time, by Ademola Lookman.

The performance from Atalanta players ensured a great value was added to a very promising era under Gian Piero Gasperini who won his first major trophy in an already respected managerial career.

African stars who scored in European finals

Former Algeria international, Rabah Madjer, was the first African player to score in a European final who also went on to win the title in 1984.

Samuel Eto'o joined the list, as he scored a crucial equalizer against Arsenal in Paris in 2006 and became the first African footballer to find the back of the net in multiple finals, when he scored against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final.

African players who featured in the Premier League later increased the list from 2010 onwards before a couple others who played outside England also etched their names.

Big African super stars like Didier Drogba, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah who recorded success in European competitions did so by not only winning the trophy, but also scoring in the finals.

But while the aforementioned players scored in the Champions League final, others like Alex Iwobi, Joe Aribo, Saïd Benrahma, and Ademola Lookman made the illustrious list of Africans who scored in the finals of European club competitions like the Europa League and Europa Conference League.

Ademola Lookman celebrates scoring against Bayer Leverkusen
Ademola Lookman celebrates after his side's victory in the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League final between Atalanta BC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Photo by Icon Sport

Below is the list of African stars who scored in European finals, their club, country and the year they achieved the incredible feat.

  • Rabah Madjer (Porto/Algeria): Champions League (1987)
  • Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona/Cameroon): Champions League (2006)
  • Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona/Cameroon): Champions League (2009)
  • Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Senegal): Champions League (2018)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt): Champions League (2019)
  • Alex Iwobi (Arsenal/Nigeria): Europa League (2019)
  • Joe Aribo (Glasgow Rangers/Nigeria): Europa League (2022)
  • Saïd Benrahma (West Ham/Algeria): Europa Conference League (2023)
  • Ademola Lookman (Atalanta/Nigeria): Europa League (2024)

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.