"We tried to stop him from playing for Nigeria" - Coach Of England laments loss of Super Eagles AFCON star
The fine form of Ademola Lookman for the Super Eagles of Nigeria has been the major talking point of the team as they head into the semi final game against South Africa on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.
Lookman has three goals all in the knock out round with his brace against Cameroon helping the team win 2-0 and his lone strike good enough to send Angola packing from the tournament taking place in Ivory Coast.
However, that wouldn’t have been possible if the head coach of England Gareth Southgate had his way few years ago, when Nigeria first made the move to have the then Everton forward switched nationality to Nigeria.
Full name Ademola Lookman Olajade Alade Aylola Lookman, he was born on 20 October 1997 in Wandsworth, Greater London to Nigerian parents making him eligible for both countries. He started off with England at youth level.
He played 31 games for England from U-19 to U-21 and was a part of the team that won the U20 World Cup in 2016. Five years later he completed a switch of nationality to Nigeria where he now has 17 caps with five goals and four assists.
The discussion to have him switch to Nigeria started in 2018 and coach of England Gareth Southgate admitted that he was doing everything within his reach to stop him from playing for the Super Eagles.
Southgate said: “I know every country is quite aggressive in their recruiting and I know they have always had an interest in him, but he is playing and has been in our squads, the 20s, 21s."
“So in terms of encouragement through game time, we are doing as much as we possibly can”, the coach said after Lookman’s impressive loan spell at RB Leipzig in 2018."
Lookman has now become an integral part of the senior national team of Nigeria and hoping to win the AFCON for the team for the first time since ten years ago.
Nigeria will play South Africa at Stade Bouake today, February 7, 2024, in the semi-final of the 2023 AFCON.