Nigeria failed to pick up a win over Ghana in Kumasi on Friday, but for Leicester City winger Lookman it was a match he will cherish for the rest of his life
Nigeria’s newest international Ademola Lookman has explained that he was delighted to make his maiden bow for the three-time African champions.
Born in Wandsworth, London, to Nigerian parents 24 years ago, Lookman grew up in the English football system, honing his skills at Waterloo and Crystal Palace before signing a professional contract with the Eagles.
He featured for England at u-19, u-20, and u-21 levels, notably helping the Young Lions lift the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017.
But some time last year, Lookman applied for a switch of allegiance, and in early 2022 FIFA gave him the clearance to represent Nigeria.
Super Eagles caretaker coach Augustine Eguavoen wasted little time inviting the Leipzig loanee to the national team setup and handed him his debut when he replaced Moses Simon in the 74th minute of their playoff clash against Ghana.
Lookman says he is glad to wear the green-and-white colours of Nigeria while detailing the reasons behind his choice.
“I am very excited to be part of Nigeria’s National team, and I’m feeling blessed and looking forward to helping the team,” Lookman told CAFOnline.com.
“Both my parents are Nigerians and I’ve always seen these [representing Nigeria] as a possibility. I came to Nigeria frequently when I was much younger.
“I am familiar with the people and built up a family here, so the switch from England to Nigeria is not an unusual one for me. I am glad I made the switch.”
The tie in Kumasi presented a difficult challenge for the Eagles, with Lookman’s fellow debutant Calvin Bassey confessing there were times he found it hard to breathe.
Nigeria have the home advantage in the second leg scheduled for the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja and are favourites to land their seventh appearance at the FIFA World Cup.
Despite playing regularly in the English Premier League, Lookman admits that featuring at the World Cup would be unique.
And the former Everton signing his backing the Super Eagles to triumph over Ghana and seal their spot at the Mundial.
“This is a special event, special moments, the expectations are high. For us, it’s about winning and giving our best in the match,” Lookman continues
“Ghana is a strong team, very competitive and physical. We expect that, but we’ll be ready.”
The last time Nigeria hosted Ghana in a World Cup qualifier in 2001, goals from Victor Agali and Tijani Babangida (brace) gave the Eagles a 3-0 win at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt.