Ademola Lookman: ‘I had to make decisions that didn’t put my family at risk’

Fulham forward discusses his upbringing, Hasenhüttl’s tip to raise his game and how a substitute appearance changed his life

“Life was tough growing up,” Ademola Lookman says simply as he remembers his childhood in Peckham. “There were some nights when I didn’t have … how can I say this? I didn’t have the best of food. I also didn’t have certain things when I was younger. It was a real struggle for my mum and she had to take care of all of us. She did the best she could and she made sure there was food on the table and that I had clothes to wear. Everything I could ask of my mum, she gave me. I was happy but, as you get older, you realise how difficult it must have been for her.”

The 23-year-old Lookman is one of the most interesting and talented young footballers in England. He was ignored by all London’s professional clubs until the age of 16 as he followed an unusual journey through football. Early in 2018, having played for Charlton before moving to Everton and the Premier League, Lookman’s “stubbornness” was questioned by Sam Allardyce when he insisted on joining RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga rather than being loaned to Derby County in the Championship.

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Ademola Lookman: ‘I had to make decisions that didn’t put my family at risk’