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Norway's Ødegaard set for qualifying milestone

Martin Ødegaard will be just 15 years and 297 days should he play for Norway against Malta on Friday, making him the youngest player in EURO qualifying history.

Martin Ødegaard celebrates a goal for his clud side Strømsgodset
Martin Ødegaard celebrates a goal for his clud side Strømsgodset ©Getty Images

Martin Ødegaard is a beacon of light for Norwegian football – still two months shy of his 16th birthday, the Strømsgodset IF midfielder is in the senior squad for the upcoming European Qualifiers against Malta and Italy.

Should Ødegaard appear in Ta' Qali on Friday or in Oslo on 13 October, he will become the youngest player in UEFA European Championship qualifying history. It would be just one of a number of milestones for a player who has come to the attention through his performances for his club side and become a YouTube sensation.

Norway coach Per-Mathias Høgmo handed Ødegaard his international debut in August's friendly draw against the United Arab Emirates – aged 15 years and 253 days, making him his country's youngest ever player. He could now beat a record currently held by Sigurdur Jónsson, who played for Iceland at 16 years and 251 days in a qualifier in 1983, coincidentally against Malta.

"Ødegaard's record is sensational, and could be hard to beat," says Erlend Nesje, a journalist working for Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. "You have to remember that the old record is from 1983. There is a possibility that Ødegaard's record will stand for a long time."

It does not look like Høgmo has included the youngster just for the experience. "I'm not afraid to use him, even from the start," said the coach. "All players in the squad are competing for a starting place. Martin is a very competent player when it comes to opening up defences, and that is a quality this side needs."

There could be yet another record in Ødegaard's sights, for he has the whole of Norway's qualifying campaign to usurp Gareth Bale as the youngest player to score in EURO qualifying. The Real Madrid CF forward found the net for Wales against Slovakia in October 2006, aged 17 years and 83 days.

Youngest players in EURO qualifying
Sigurdur Jónsson, Iceland (16 years, 251 days)
Peter Jehle, Liechtenstein (16 years, 265 days)
Levan Kenia, Georgia (16 years, 325 days)
Daniel Frick, Liechtentstein (17 years, 79 days)
Ronny Büchel, Liechtenstein (17 years, 82 days)
Gareth Bale, Wales (17 years, 83 days)
Vagif Javadov, Azerbaijan (17 years, 100 days)
Romelu Lukaku, Belgium (17 years, 113 days)

Youngest goalscorers in EURO qualifying
Gareth Bale, Wales (17 years, 83 days)
Levan Mchedlidze, Georgia (17 years, 207 days)
Ben Sahar, Israel (17 years, 230 days)
Wayne Rooney, England (17 years, 317 days)
Zoran Filipovic, Jugoslavia (18 years, 92 days)

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