After a phenomenal first season at Manchester City, Erling Haaland is calling on his side to make sure they end the campaign with the trophy they crave the most.
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He has scored more than 50 goals in a stunning season – including five in a single Champions League game against Leipzig. Yet Erling Haaland does not hesitate to name his favourite strike so far, that extraordinary volley against his old club Borussia Dortmund last September.
With both feet off the ground, he connected with the outside of his near boot to divert a João Cancelo cross into the net. If there were echoes of a Johan Cruyff wonder goal from 1973, Haaland is making his own history – and fast – having become the leading scorer in a single season for Manchester City, breaking Tommy Johnson's 94-year-old club record of 38 goals. Here, he reflects on a campaign to remember.
Take us back to when you first arrived at City. Were there any nerves? Excitement? Anticipation?
I was excited for the challenge. I knew I was joining a team where I would have many chances to score goals and make an impact. Luckily, that has been what I've been able to do. I've really loved my first season here in Manchester.
Moving to Manchester was a bit like returning home, given your family connections. Tell us what this club means to you and your family.
Of course, it means a lot. Everyone has seen the photos of me in my City shirts when I was a boy. I just want to keep doing well here, work hard and make our fans happy. I've really enjoyed life in Manchester and living in the city.
Did anything surprise you about City when you joined?
I always knew this was going to be a new challenge and something different to what I'd experienced before, but I'm really enjoying it. I knew that this manager, team, staff, facilities and everything here at the club would be at the highest level, and that's exactly how it is. The intensity is so high in the Premier League; anyone can beat anyone and you have to be at your best to win matches.
How has Pep Guardiola helped you develop your game?
Pep, his coaches and all the staff behind the scenes, do everything to try to help us bring the best version of ourselves onto the pitch. I've already learned so much from Pep and I'm sure there is more to come. I knew I had to adapt to a new coach, new staff, new team-mates and environment, but I feel like I've adapted well and I've loved every single minute.
You've achieved so much already with City this season. How will it feel to take to the pitch in a Champions League final?
It will be special. I've always dreamed of playing in the Champions League final and it will be an honour to play in this match. But there's also a job to do. We've had an incredible season but we have to finish it in the best way possible. I know we're all going to give it everything to win this final. We will have to be at our best against a very good Inter side and we're excited to get out onto the pitch.
You score at a rate of 1.21 goals per game in the Champions League. Historically, that is unprecedented. Are you sometimes surprised by just how many goals you are scoring?
I knew I would have the chances to score playing in this team. When you have so many incredible players around you to supply the opportunities to score or create spaces for you, then the chances will always come. I'm so lucky to have team-mates that help me do my job of putting the ball in the back of the net. It takes so much hard work on and off the pitch to keep scoring goals and, when I do get one, my immediate focus is on scoring the next one.
Is there one Champions League goal this season that sticks in your mind?
I have to say I think the goal against Dortmund was a nice goal. I'd always wanted to score a goal like this, so to see it go into the net was a great feeling. It was also a really important goal in the group stage against a fantastic team with quality all over the pitch.
Do you set yourself targets or pay attention to stats?
My targets are to try to help the team lift trophies at the end of the season by scoring goals. I know that if I can score goals and support the team, then it will help everyone achieve their goals at the end of the season. As soon as I score a goal, all I can think about is getting the next one. That's how I approach this situation and will continue to [do that].
How would you describe this City squad as a whole?
It's absolutely incredible. All of us share that same hunger and desire to succeed every single day. We are there for each other and that's the way it has to be if we want to be successful. It's a really special group of lads, but also the manager, coaches and all of the staff behind the scenes.
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