Lido Lotefa, Glenavon’s goalscoring hero in the 4-0 Sports Direct Premiership victory against Dungannon Swifts, was thrilled to take home the match ball. It was his first senior hat-trick.

“I am delighted,” he said speaking minutes after the final whistle. “It has always been an ambition to score three goals in a game.”

But, after finding the net twice in the opening fifteen minutes, why did it take him so long to add the third? “When I scored the second goal, I was obviously hoping to get another one,” he continued. “I kept working hard, looking for an opportunity. The longer the game went on the more I feared that Stephen [McDonnell] might take me off. That’s what happened the last time I got two goals. Thankfully, he didn’t do that, and I was in the right place when the ball dropped to score again.”

Lido is the first Glenavon player to register a hat-trick since Kyle Beggs found the net three times in a 5-1 BetMcLean League Cup first round win against Portstewart at Mourneview Park in September 2021. Four months before that, Andy Hall netted three goals in a 6-3 Sports Direct Premiership triumph against Carrick Rangers at Taylor’s Avenue.

Lotefa was happy to describe his three strikes against Dungannon. “For the first one, I saw the ball in the air and the defender facing his own goalkeeper and being forced to chase back. Those are the situations I thrive on. Suddenly a pathway opened up. I tried to work the ball around the keeper, but it went through his legs and thankfully crossed the goal line.”

“The second goal came from a high ball which Sean [Ward] delivered into the final third of the pitch. I managed to shake off a couple of defenders and found myself with just the goalkeeper to beat. I always feel confident in that scenario. I stayed calm and slotted it home.”

“The third was the easiest,” he continued. “James Doona’s header hit the crossbar and bounced down right in front of me. I just had to touch it over the line. I don’t think I could have missed it,”

The victory – and the point gained in the midweek scoreless draw against Glentoran – has lifted the Lurgan Blues into ninth place in the league table and back into contention for seventh and the Europa Conference League Qualification Play-offs.

“We needed the three points,” Lido continued. “Results since January have been disappointing. But this win is a big boost for everyone. Hopefully, we can build on it.”

Lido, who is under contract with Glenavon until the end of the season, feels that he can establish himself as a Premiership centre-forward. “I think I have the ability,” he said. “I can play with my back to goal and hold the ball up, but I can also run in behind defences. I am also quite strong physically. But, like any player, I want to improve.”

Lotefa, who celebrates his 24th birthday next month, was born in the Congo but has lived in Ireland since infancy. He started his football career with St. Kevin’s, then joined Bohemians’ Academy before moving to Dundalk. It was during this period that Stephen McDonnell, then manager of Warrenpoint Town, made his first, unsuccessful, attempt to sign him. For the past two years he has plied his trade as a full timer with Norwegian fourth tier club Florø SK.

“I really liked Scandinavia,” he said. “Both the football and the people were great. As far as life experiences go, it was a real eye-opener. I would have stayed if I had been able to.”

Lido scored a total of 11 goals and provided 16 assists for Florø SK. Nine of those goals came in his first campaign. “I suffered a knee injury during my second season and was out for three or four months,” he explained. “It was a major setback.”

When presented with the opportunity to play in the Irish League, the Dubliner did not hesitate. “It was a big chance for me after returning from Norway,” he continued. “I was delighted to join Glenavon.”

Lotefa, who lives in the Hollystown area of North Dublin, has enjoyed working with Stephen McDonnell. “He is a very good coach. He knows the game inside out. But he is also a decent man. He has been very good one-to-one with me. I find that, because he is young, he is very approachable. He is great to work with.”

The Congolese has found it easy to settle at Mourneview. “The rest of the players have been great,” he added. “They have made me very welcome. Plus, the other people I have met at the club have been friendly. It is a great environment.”

Lido, whilst ambitious, places a greater premium on enjoyment. “Like any player I want to go as far as I can in the game, but happiness is the most important thing for me. I like to have a smile on my face. You can’t put a price on that.”