Brighton winger Simon Adingra described Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph as “one of the most beautiful moments of my life”.
Hosts Ivory Coast produced a 2-1 comeback victory over Nigeria on Sunday to become African champions for the third time, with Adingra setting up both goals and being named player of the match.
“We did it together – we’re Africa champions and it’s incredible,” said Adingra.
“I’ve just experienced one of the most beautiful moments of my life and that’s down to the effort of everyone in the team.”
The hosts fell behind in the showpiece when Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong headed in a 38th-minute opener against the run of play.
Second-half goals from Franck Kessie and former West Ham striker Sebastien Haller – who in July 2022 was diagnosed with testicular cancer and returned to action at Borussia Dortmund just over a year ago – sealed what at one stage appeared an improbable victory.
The Elephants suffered a 4-0 group-stage defeat to Equatorial Guinea and sacked head coach Jean-Louis Gasset, squeezing into the knockout rounds after finishing third in their section.
Caretaker boss Emerse Fae said: “When I think about all we went through, the hard times when we almost out and the matches where we came back in last minutes, we have created some miracles.
“We were close to humiliation but when we had a second chance, we were determined not to waste it.”
For Nigeria’s former Watford defender Troost-Ekong, the opening goal was his third of the competition and he was named the tournament’s best player.
Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro said: “My team is sad but for me they did what they could.
“I am proud of the way my players performed in this tournament.”