When questioned about the budding young prodigy who was thrilling Norwegians for the first time since a certain Martin regard burst onto the scene, Ruben Gabrielsen said earlier this year, “The first time he came to Molde, I didn’t think he was the whole world. But all of a sudden, he changed in a way I had never seen before. He hasn’t turned around since. Also, he is considerably faster and a lot more powerful than he appears to be. He is an animal. A suitable moniker for Erling Braut Haaland, 19, who left Scandinavia this year and started his own destructive invasion of Europe.
His onslaught has been brutal, much like that of the ancient Northmen, and much like the Vikings who crossed the North Sea more than a thousand years ago, he arrived absolutely unannounced, taking most of the European football scene by surprise. A skillfully executed hat-trick in his Champions League debut for Red Bull Salzburg — the first such feat since Wayne Rooney for Manchester United in 2004 — was sure to make headlines as soon as he left the field. The first was a strong, rifling shot that arrived in less than two minutes, and the second was an expert left-foot finish.
Erling Braut Haaland left Scandinavia this year
With a quick penalty-box strike after 35 minutes, he had finished his first European hat-trick. But suffice it to say that he is a man who is used to winning the match. Halland has already scored 17 goals in ten games during his first season in Austria. It so happened that his hat trick against Genk in the Champions League group stages was his fourth of the year. I’m overjoyed with his three goals today. Okay, he’s scoring for fun in the league, but just wait until he gets to the big stage, someone said. Then he scores another hat trick on the next play.
Over a thousand years have passed since the famous Ragnar Lothbrok ravaged the western European beaches in search of wealth, but Erling Hland is already penning his own epic tale. He is turning football pitches into scenes of carnage with his perplexing blend of physicality and unexpected nimbleness. The defense of the Austrian Bundesliga has already struggled to contain such a young man, and the helpless keepers of the Genk goal were equally perplexed. However, even though the majority of Europe is only now becoming aware of the threat that the rising Norwegian poses, his standing in his native country has been progressively improving over the past 18 months.
Zlatko Junuzovi, Hland’s teammate, stated after the game: “His goalscoring run is remarkable.
You could have been excused for assuming that the son of the somewhat infamous Alfie Inge Hland would have trouble surviving in the competitive and unforgiving world of professional football. Things were looking bleak for the then-16-year-old Hland after 16 goalless appearances in Norway’s second division for his childhood club Bryne in his first season, as well as a failed trial with Germany’s Hoffenheim. The beginning of the metamorphosis from boy to beast, though, came with a move to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde, an Eliteserien team. Haaland succeeded in his second season despite having a difficult first one in which he scored just four goals in 20 games.
He eventually finished the season with 16 goals across all competitions, scoring four times as many goals. His lethality in front of goal was perfected under Solskjr, who is renowned for his devotion to the art of finishing. The scouts of several of the larger clubs started to learn that something was moving on the Scandinavian beaches during this second season. In the first 21 minutes of a match against the league’s unbeaten leaders Brann in July 2018, a young Hland scored all four goals.
In front of a Manchester United scout after single-handedly dismantling the league’s best team, Solskjr quickly revealed the club had turned down many unknown European teams’ proposals.
The elite eventually stepped up their efforts to sign Hland when he shone for Molde, but his final destination pointed to a young footballer who, despite the growing attention his abilities were bringing him, had his feet firmly planted on the ground. Haaland rejected offers from Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen in favor of Red Bull Salzburg, believing that they were a better match for him at this point in his career. He admitted in January that he was certainly thrilled by Juventus’ interest, but I felt it was premature to travel there. My ideal club was Salzburg, and they were the ones that wanted me the most. Here, there is a better probability of winning.