Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland CF9: The Mesmerizing Norwegian Menace

Erling Haaland is already considered one of the best strikers in the world, and still aged 22, his best years lie ahead of him. In his first season with Manchester City, he seems set to break all Premier League records for goals in a single season, and manager Pep Guardiola is hoping that the Norwegian can be the difference maker as City goes in pursuit of the one trophy they want to win above all others – the Champions League.

He is already the holder of several records in that competition, being the fastest player to reach 25 and 30 goals.

Haaland is known for his speed and movement, and although he often only has a few touches in a match, his ability to get in the box and finish chances makes him stand out from other forwards.

Primarily left-footed, he still scores a good percentage of his goals with his weaker right foot and head.

He has played for Norway at every age level from under-15 upwards and now has 23 senior caps to his name, scoring 21 goals. Unfortunately, the lack of depth of talent in Norwegian football means that the country has yet to appear at any major tournament during his time with them.

If that is to change, Haaland and Arsenal’s Martin Ødegaard will likely be central to thatMartin Ødegaard will likely be central to that if that is to change.

Early Life

Erling Haaland was born in Leeds, England, in 2000 because his father, Alfie-Inge, played in the Premier League with Leeds United.

(Alfie Haaland, best remembered for his feud with Roy Keane, with the Irishman later admitting that he had deliberately tried to break the leg of the Norwegian in a tackle in retaliation for a previous clash between the two).

The sport was in Haaland’s blood. Apart from his father, his mother was a heptathlete champion, while two maternal cousins, Albert Tjaland and Jonatan Braut Brunes, currently play for Norwegian sides Bryne and IK Start. Jonatan’s sister Emma Braut Brunes is a Klepp women’s team defender.

erling haaland

When he was three, the family moved back to Norway because his father had to retire early from football with a knee injury and became a property developer instead. Despite that, he encouraged his son’s love of football, and within two years, Haaland joined the academy of his hometown club Bryne. Initially, he began playing with his age group, but he soon moved up because he was much better than everybody else.

Football was not the only sport in which he showed promise. He was also a talented handball player, golfer, and track and field athlete.

When the club built an indoor grass-covered football pitch open even on weekends, Haaland and a group of friends would congregate there and play for hours.

He quickly progressed through the Bryne youth ranks and scored 18 goals in 14 matches during one season while playing for their reserve side.

When the Bryne manager got sacked and the youth team manager promoted in his place, he decided to hand a first-team debut to Haaland, who was three months shy of his 16th birthday.

Initially, he was deployed as a winger before he got switched to his more natural striking role.

He failed to score in any of the 16 matches he played for Byrne but still had shown enough potential for Molde, then managed by Ole Gunnar Solsksjaer, one of the biggest clubs in Norway, to sign him.

By this time, he had also first tasted international football, playing for Norway’s under-15 side.

Club-wise career and achievements

Solskjaer helped mentor Haaland in his early career, giving him his first start in a Norwegian Cup match. He scored on his debut. His first season with the club was unspectacular – he managed four goals in 20 appearances – but he took off in the next campaign.

He would score 16 goals in the course of it, finishing as the club’s top scorer, with a particular highlight being four goals in 21 minutes away from SK Brann.

The sense that he was already outgrowing Norwegian domestic football was confirmed when Red Bull Salzburg bought the teenager in the summer of 2018 for an initial fee of around £7 million. However, he would not join them until the following January.

Later, his father’s old club Leeds United also tried buying him.

He immediately made an impact with his new club, scoring 17 goals in 16 matches, with his pace, power, and technique often too much for opposition defenders to handle.

It was in the Champions League, though, where he gained the attention of a wider audience. In the six games he played in the group stages of the competition in 2019, he scored eight goals in six games. He became the first teenage scorer in his first four games in the competition, and he capped off his scoring sequence with a hat-trick against Wolfsburg, his fifth in Salzburg colors.

By now, he was on the radar of many of the top clubs in Europe, with Manchester United and Juventus amongst those interested in signing him.

Instead, Borussia Dortmund won the race for his services, with both Haaland and his father aware of the Bundesliga club’s record of giving younger players a chance.

Erling Haaland

They paid a transfer fee believed to be around £20 million, although, with bonuses and add-ons, the price was much higher, giving Salzburg a substantial return on their initial investment.

He debuted as a substitute in a league match against Augsburg, a second-half substitute and immediately announced himself to fans of his new club by scoring a hat-trick.

Two more in his next game made him the first player in Bundesliga history to score five goals in his first two games. He scored regularly in what remained of that campaign, helping Borussia Dortmund to a second-place finish in the league.

He finished that season having scored 44 goals in 40 appearances for the two clubs for which he had played combined.

His goalscoring feats continued into the following season. Early highlights included a four-goal individual haul away to Hertha Berlin and another six goals in four matches in the Champions League. In the process, he became the fastest player to reach the 15-goal mark in that competition.

His second goal against Bayern Munich in March 2021 was the 100th of his career. It had taken him 146 appearances to achieve that benchmark. A hamstring injury then ruled him out for several months, but he returned to find the net again with regularity.

In May, he picked up the first major silverware of his career, scoring twice as Dortmund beat RB Leipzig to win the German Cup.

He got voted by the fans as the Bundesliga Player of the Season and was also named the best forward in the Champions League.

Injuries saw him miss several months of his final season with Dortmund, although there were still several moments of individual brilliance.

His goal against Wolfsburg in November was his 50th in the Bundesliga, making him the youngest player to have achieved the feat.

However, although they publicly avowed their intention to keep him at the club, Dortmund privately knew that it would just be a matter of time before the Norwegian got snapped up by one of Europe’s biggest clubs. So it duly came to pass when Manchester City agreed to pay his release clause.

That was for an initial £51.2 million, even, as it had subsequently transpired, when agent fees and performance bonuses got taken into account, the actual amount was far more than initially portrayed.

He left German football, scoring 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund.

Haaland made his competitive debut for City in the Community Shield against Liverpool, who were showing off their new forward in the form of Darwin Núñez. When Haaland failed to score and missed several easy chances, and Núñez scored at the other end, some quickly judged that Jurgen Klopp had gotten the better bargain.

It took a little while for Haaland and City to prove them wrong.

He scored two league goals on his Premier League debut at West Ham and back-to-back hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, making him the quickest player in the league’s history to reach that milestone.

In his first month with his new club, he was named August’s Premier League Player of the Month.

The following month he made his Champions League debut for City, and his two goals against Seville made him the fastest man to reach 25 goals in the competition’s history. He became the first player to score three successive home Premier League hat-tricks when he found the net three times in the Manchester derby.

One of the players to miss the World Cup because his country Norway did not qualify, he used the opportunity to come back refreshed after the break, and records continued to tumble.

His fourth hat trick against Wolves FC meant he had already scored more goals after 19 games. More than the top scorers in the English Premier League had managed all season.

In March, he scored five goals as City heavily thrashed RB Leipzig in the second leg of their R16 Champions League tie. This feat tied the record, jointly held by Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano, for the most goals scored in a single game.

He also broke the record, which had stood since 1929, for the most goals scored in a single season by a Manchester City player.

Now he is closing in on the record for the most goals scored in the Premier League in a single season, currently held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.

Young Soccer soccermeastros star

International career

Although he could have chosen to represent England because of his birthplace, Haaland has always considered himself Norwegian. That is the only country he wants to represent, even though it means he might need help for international success.

His first introduction to international football came in his Byrne days, when he was selected to play for their national under-15 side, progressing upwards through the age ranks.

In March 2018, while playing for their under-19 side, his hat-trick against Scotland helped Norway qualify for that year’s under-19 European Championship finals. He would score a penalty in the finals against Italy.

The following year, by now playing for them at the under-20 level, he scored nine goals in a 12- 0 thrashing of Honduras in the under-20 FIFA World Cup. That was Norway’s biggest-ever win at that level, and although they failed to qualify from the group stage, Haaland still won the Golden Boot awarded to the tournament’s top scorer.

He got his first call-up to the Norway senior squad in August 2019, when manager Lars Lagerbäck selected him for forthcoming matches against Malta and Sweden in qualifying for the UEFA European Championships of 2020.

He made his debut against Malta but failed to find the net.

His first senior international goal came in a defeat to Austria in the Nations League in 2020, and he got two more against Northern Ireland a few days later. His first international hat trick also came in the Nations League, this time against Romania.

He would score five goals in World Cup qualifying for Qatar 2022, but his side failed to get out of the group stages.

To date, he has scored 21 goals in 23 senior appearances for the national team.

Style of Play & Career Trajectory

Haaland is a prolific goalscorer who primarily scores his goals from within the confines of the penalty box.

He relies on his pace, power, and quick movement to get into the positions, always looking to run behind defenders into space. He also has game awareness, so he rarely gets caught offside.

He often drops deep to collect the ball, using his height and frame to shield it from opposition players before laying it off to teammates.

Although primarily left-footed, he still scores his fair share of goals with his right foot and uses his height to score with his head.

One of the features of his time with City so far is how few touches he gets in a game. He can go minutes without the ball coming his way, but then he will get an opportunity, and, more times than not, the ball will end up in the back of the net.

This, though, is not a reflection of Haaland but the way that City plays under Pep Guardiola, having lots of possession in an attempt to draw opposing teams out.

Despite this, some would like Haaland given more opportunity to run at defenders directly, with his pace and power giving him an inherent advantage in a head-to-head duel.

Regarding career trajectory, the sky is the limit for the Norwegian.

His immediate focus will be on Manchester City as they chase silverware on three fronts this season.

They are attempting to chase down Arsenal in the Premier League race. They have an FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United on the horizon, for which they will start odds-on favorites to reach the final and a possible Wembley date against Manchester United.

Yet, the main reason City bought Haaland is to try and help them win the Champions League for the first time, and it is there that he might prove his actual worth to them this season.

It will be challenging as they meet the German champions Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, and, if they get through that, face a semi-final, probably against the defending champions Real Madrid.

City, though, will believe that they have a much better chance with the goals of Haaland on the side.

When he signed for the Manchester club, Haaland signed a five-year deal, and there have already been talks that they might try and renegotiate that on better terms to fend off interest from Real Madrid.

It would be no surprise if Haaland did one day play for Real because there is the sense that it has always been the ultimate destination for the ambitious Haaland.

Wherever he goes, though, Haaland appears destined to pick up a series of winners’ medals, although he might need help to replicate that success wearing a Norway shirt. His goals and the skills of a player like Martin Ødegaard cannot make up for deficiencies in the rest of the squad.

Life outside football

Despite his parentage, his father did not put too much pressure on him, choosing to keep his distance, especially when organized training got involved. That does not mean his father has not played an integral role in his career, with the pair having plotted his trajectory in terms of clubs from an early age.

More than most players, Haaland focuses on the mental side of the game and is heavily into meditation, saying that he hates to be stressed. In the evenings, he often wears blue light-filtering glasses to prevent screens from interfering with his sleep patterns; He also switches off his Wi-Fi every evening before bed.

Away from the pitch, he lives a low-key lifestyle with few distractions. He rarely goes out, only watches a few movies or TV, and is not a big fan of games like FIFA.

soccermaestros young soccer star erling haaland
Photo by Marco Verch

Instead, his life got focused on his professional career. He wakes up, has breakfast, goes to the club for training, physio, and team meetings, and comes home to rest and prepare for the next day.

He does have a holiday home in Marbella, Spain, where he is known to frequent local nightclubs and has even had spells behind the decks as a DJ.

Haaland has also been spotted on local beaches playing football with a group of young fans.

He is currently in a relationship with fellow Norwegian footballer Isabel Haugseng Johansen, who comes from the same town as Haaland and whom he has known for several years.

Interesting Facts

  • Being Born in Leeds, he was eligible to play for England. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for Norway, he opted for the latter instead;
  • He is a world record holder. When he was five, he leaped 1/63 meters in the standing long jump. According to International Age Records, nobody has jumped further before or since that age;
  • When he was younger, teammates gave him the nickname “Man Child” because of his disproportionate height – he stands 6 feet, four inches tall’;
  • His idol growing up was Zlatan Ibrahimović. Not only do they play in similar positions, but the Swede is also Scandinavian; they also shared the same football agent for a while in Mina Raiola until the Italian passed away;
  • He follows the diet of Cristiano Ronaldo. When he learned that Ronaldo only eats fish for lunch, Haaland vowed to follow his example, believing that it was one of the keys to the Portuguese’s longevity in the game;
  • He is a minor pop star, having formed a group called the Flow Kingz with two teammates from his Norway under-18 days, Eric Botheim and Erik Tobias Sandberg;
  • His alarm tone on his phone is the Champions League theme song. He claims it is a tune he will never get tired of, and waking up to it is the perfect start to the day;
  • He sleeps with the balls of every hat trick he has ever scored, describing them as “his girlfriends.” If he continues at his current rate, though, he will have to buy a big bed;
  • Although he does not have any animals of his own at present when he retires, he wants to own and run a farm, probably with cows and pigs, and perhaps some goats as well;

His mother, Gry Marita Braut, was a Norwegian heptathlete during the 1990s.

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