He may only be 19 years old, but every football fan will know the name of Erling Braut Haaland. The Norwegian teen has taken the world by storm in the last year as he has blossomed into one of the most prolific strikers in current world football.
Leeds-born Haaland made his first senior appearance four years ago, aged just 15, for hometown club Bryne FK in the 1. divisjon, the second tier of Norway’s football league. He failed to score on any of his 16 appearances, but still impressed the scouts.
In February 2017, Haaland joined Norwegian giants Molde FK for an undisclosed fee. He stayed at the club just shy of two years, scoring 14 goals in 39 games. In this time, the Norwegian striker netted 12 goals on 12 occasions for various international youth teams.
Haaland switched to Red Bull Salzburg in January 2019. This is where he really put his name in shining lights as in the year following the move came 16 domestic appearances, 17 goals, and his senior international debut for Norway.
Amid interest from Manchester United and other global superpowers, pressure increased on Salzburg to sell their goal-threatening asset. And sell they did.
Borussia Dortmund secured the Norwegian’s signature for around €20m and he crossed the border in January 2020 to play in Germany’s top-flight; the Bundesliga. Haaland has appeared four times for Die Schwarzgelben in all competitions, coming off the bench in three, yet has racked up a staggering eight goals.
Averaging one goal every 23 minutes for Dortmund, Haaland is one of the hottest attacking properties in the world football scene, but could he bring the Norwegian national side back to its former glory?
It may seem a tall order for one man, but it is far from impossible. This very season, in fact, has seen Finland qualify for a major tournament for the first time in history, spearheaded by Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki.
Having won August’s Premier League Player of the Month award, Pukki then netted 10 of the Huuhkajat’s 14 goals in the qualifying stages, arguably carrying the side to their inaugural international competition.
Evidence, then, that one in-form striker can convert a nation’s dwindling footballing prowess into one of world-stage capacity.
It has been 20 long years since Norway found themselves in continental contention. The Løvene will have their sights firmly set on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and, with the way things are going, a return is well on the cards.
They are not yet out of contention for Euro 2020, either.
Norway’s fate lies on the feet of Erling Braut Haaland.
Statistics correct as of 07.02.2020