- Ademola Lookman bagged a brace to send England into the quarter-finals
- Both goals were orchestrated by fellow Everton team-mates
- Having achieved his dream of playing in the U-20 World Cup, Lookman now wants even more
“Of course I'm happy, and especially so because I hit the post twice in the previous game.”
That was Ademola Lookman’s immediate reaction when he spoke to FIFA.com after his team’s 2-1 victory against Costa Rica in the Round of 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017.
The young Everton forward may have been denied by the woodwork twice in the final group stage match against Korea Republic, but he rediscovered his scoring form just in time to ensure England’s progression. In what was a stellar performance, Lookman could have scored a hat-trick had the woodwork not gotten in the way of a ferocious free-kick between his two strikes.
“This time I scored a brace, and most importantly, the team secured a win. I'm very happy with our result.”
Intriguingly, both of Lookman’s goals share something in common with England’s first goal against Argentina, when Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home a pass from Kieran Dowell: all three goals were assisted and finished by Everton players.
“Of course I knew that. Jonjoe [Kenny] fed me such a wonderful pass, as did Dominic [Calvert-Lewin]. It was a feat accomplished by us Everton boys,” exclaimed Lookman. “We've trained together so often that we know each other very well. You could say there's a chemistry between us.”
So is there a special connection between these team-mates?
“This is not the first time that we Everton players have combined to score goals. We were able to score thanks to our teamwork, and because we're close friends even off the pitch. That comes across when we play.” explained Calvert-Lewin.
“As I was about to cross the ball, I heard Ademola shouting at me. I didn't even need to look up to know he was running into the penalty box. Whether we play for club or country, I know exactly where my team-mates will be at a given time. After all, we train together every day.”
Lookman was something of a late bloomer compared to his England team-mates, many of whom have considerably more experience with the various national youth teams. In his mid-teens, he was still an amateur playing football with neighborhood friends, but became better known through his stints with hometown team Waterloo FC and Charlton Athletic. Earlier in 2017, he signed for Everton to kick start his English Premier League dreams.
“The past two years feel like a blur, especially the last six months, in which I learned a lot by having to adjust to a new team, a new league, and a new environment," he said. "Going forward, I'd like to develop into an even better player and continue to score goals like I did today.”
And while he knows he will soon return to club duties, Lookman is treating Korea Republic 2017 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “This is the second biggest tournament after the FIFA World Cup™, so just being here feels like a dream,” he said. “We've played together for a very long time, and if we believe in ourselves, I'm convinced we can go all the way to the final.”
Asked about the prospect of facing either Mexico or Senegal in the quarter-finals, the forward had this to say as our chat concluded: “I don't mind who our opponent is. If we play to our strengths, we'll be fine. The result is more dependent on how we play than on who our opponent is. All we have to do is believe in ourselves and focus during the match.”