By Cain Smith.
Each superstar footballer seems to have a ‘breakthrough season’, where their supreme talent is first shown on the big stage.
This season, Erling Braut Haaland has emerged as one of the best young talents in world football. His performances with RB Salzburg in Austria led him to Borrusia Dortmund in January, where he has made an incredible start.
Roots And Youth Career
Haaland may play his international football for Norway, but he was born in Leeds, England. His father, Alf-Inge Haaland was a professional footballer and had just made a switch from Leeds United to Manchester City before his son was born.
Alf-Inge played in midfield and at right-back during his career — quite different from his son Erling. He has been his son’s biggest role model.
“Some of my strengths, I can see in Erling, but in other things, he is a lot better than me already,” Haaland senior told DW Kick-Off.
Haaland grew up in Bryne, Norway, and began his football career there with Bryne FK.
His performances in the reserve side in the 2015/16 season, where he scored 18 goals in 14 matches, led to a first-team debut aged just 15.
He went onto play a further 15 matches for Bryne in the second division of Norwegian football and although he did not score in this period of time, he was developing into a man at Byrne FK.
During his time with Bryne, Haaland had a one week trial with Bundesliga side, Hoffenheim. The club was willing to sign the young Norwegian but the two parties could not agree on a wage.
Haaland stayed put in Norway and moved to Molde in February 2017.
Joining Molde And Playing Under Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought the young striker to the Eliteserien club. Being a pretty good striker himself in his day, the former Manchester United man clearly saw potential in the teenager.
This led to Haaland getting his debut with the first-team on April 26, 2017. He has since revealed that in training beforehand he “missed every opportunity”, although Solskjaer told him: “I think you’ll start this game, so just be ready.”
Solskjaer’s trust was repaid. Haaland scored in a 3-2 win against Volda TF and the forward’s career was kickstarted.
The following season he really made a name for himself at the Aker Stadion. He scored 12 goals in 25 matches, with four of them coming in one match against SK Brann who were unbeaten in the league at the time. It took the then 17-year-old just 17 minutes to score his four goals.
This great performance was made in front of a Manchester United scout, lending weight to the later interest in the teenage sensation from Old Trafford.
Haaland finished the 2018 season as Molde’s top goalscorer with 16 goals and he also received the Eliteserien Breakthrough of the Year award.
In August that year, RB Salzburg announced that Haaland would join the club from Molde in January 2019.
Haaland made his first appearance for RB Salzburg on February 17, 2019, in a 2-1 win against Wiener Neustadt. His first goal came in another 2-1 win, against LASK.
However, he only made five appearances for Salzburg in his first season, and it was his second with the club that he took the spotlight in the Austrian Bundesliga.
The 2019/20 campaign began with a bang. Haaland scored his first hat-trick for Salzburg on August 10 in a 5-2 win against Wolfsberger AC.
He would score four more hat-tricks for the club, with one coming in his Champions League debut — the competition where Haaland really showed his talent to the world.
His Champions League hat-trick came against KRC Genk, but he would then score in his following four Champions League matches, including in games against Napoli, and once against Liverpool.
Haaland had an impressive goalscoring record with RB Salzburg, to say the least. 28 goals in only 22 matches brought interest from some of the biggest clubs across Europe, including Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.
Many fans believed the Haaland was going to be joining Man United and reunite with the manager who gave him his chance at Molde, Solskjaer. It was, however, to Borussia Dortmund that the teenager decided to move. He made the change to Germany in January 2020.
The Big Move To Borussia Dortmund
Haaland was the most sought after youngster in Europe when Dortmund managed to persuade him to join them in North Rhine-Westphalia.
His explosive season at Salzburg certainly didn’t slow down in Germany. His first appearance came from the bench, his side was 3-1 down to Augsburg – three Haaland goals later saw Dortmund emerge 5-3 victors.
He became the second-ever Borussia Dortmund player to score a hat-trick on their debut — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the other.
Since the Norwegian moved to Germany he has scored 13 goals in 15 games in the Bundesliga. He also continued his impressive Champions League form for BVB against Paris Saint-Germain, where he scored twice in the first leg to give Dortmund the upper hand in the tie — though they were eventually knocked out following a 2-0 defeat in the second leg in Paris.
It is quite clear that his performances throughout the 2019/20 campaign, for both Salzburg and Dortmund, have uncovered a talent but not just any talent — one of the best in world football.
It is quite clear that Haaland’s long term future is not going to be at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund. In 2022, his release clause can be activated and he can be picked up for £63 million, which is peanuts in the current market, especially for a player of his calibre.
Haaland has also shown his respect for his fellow Scandinavian, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has played for some of the best clubs across Europe; including Barcelona and both Milan clubs.
“For me, Zlatan is the biggest,” Haaland told Norweigan channel, TV2. “He is from Scandinavia, so someone has to take over from him.
“I have dreamed of playing for the best clubs in the world my whole life, and I especially like English football.”
Whether Haaland emulates Ibrahimovic’s career as one of football’s journeymen or not, it is quite clear that he will end it with a healthy number of trophies and also an impressive number of goals.