How brilliant is Erling Braut Haaland?

UEFA.com celebrates the 20-year-old Norway and Dortmund striker with the world at his feet.

The sky is the limit for Erling Braut Haaland
The sky is the limit for Erling Braut Haaland Getty Images

Erling Braut Haaland scored ten UEFA Champions League goals last season. After hitting his first international hat-trick for Norway, what new wonders will he perform in 2020/21?

What they say

Haaland: All of his Nations League goals
Haaland: All of his Nations League goals

"He has enormous potential and so much time still. If he continues to work hard, he will reach the top level."
Robert Lewandowski, Bayern forward

"He has so much talent. He's a great guy with a superb mentality. No matter what style of football you play, he will always score lots of goals. He's so incredibly strong and has the technique and pace."
Jesse Marsch, Salzburg coach

"He's crazy insane, but that's what makes him so good."
Maxmilian Wöber, Salzburg defender

"Erling has been very lucky with good coaches and team-mates. He is still learning. He loves to score goals but has also improved a lot in build-up play. It's not one specific moment, but a lot of hard work from him and also having a career plan regarding clubs where young players will get the chance to play."
Alf-Inge Haaland, father and former Norway midfielder

Jesse Marsch gives Haaland some encouragement at Salzburg
Jesse Marsch gives Haaland some encouragement at SalzburgGetty Images

"He's a cool guy who knows what it's about. Erling is very professional. I'm always one of the first at the training centre, but he is there earlier. He also comes to the training centre on days off. He knows what is important and good for him."
Roman Bürki, Dortmund goalkeeper

"He plays like he trains. When he is in front of goal, he is cold-blooded. His professional attitude and positivity is something we really enjoy and what we need on the pitch. He will always score, no matter how involved he is in a match."
Marco Reus, Dortmund forward and captain

Current tally

International: 7 appearances, 6 goals
UEFA club competition: 14 appearances, 14 goals
Domestic top division: 73 appearances, 48 goals

Claims to fame

Bryne

Haaland on the rise at Bryne
Haaland on the rise at Bryneetty Images

• First joined his local club at five, and was immediately promoted up the age categories. His coach Alf Ingve Berntsen remembered: "His first two touches led to goals. He was very, very good from the first moment."

• Impressed his coaches by coming in to play at weekends on Bryne’s all-weather pitch, also showing as much commitment in casual games as in ones for the national youth teams. "He was never afraid," Berntsen said. "He always had respect for his opponents, he just never cared who they were."

Molde

• Moved to Molde, where his coach was Ole Gunnar Solskjær. On 1 July 2018, he scored four in the first 21 minutes of a win against Norwegian league leaders Brann. "He has the potential to become a top striker for sure," Solskjær said.

• Scored 12 in 25 games in total in his second season at Molde. Solskjær compared him to Romelu Lukaku, adding: ”There is a lot of interest in him. We have had offers from good clubs but we rejected them."

Salzburg
• Signed for Salzburg despite interest from higher-profile sides, eager to keep playing first-team football. If used sparingly in the 2018/19 campaign, given the awesome scoring form of club-mate Munas Dabbur, Haaland seized his chance when he got a starting place under Jesse Marsch in 2019/20.

Watch Haaland's Salzburg hat-trick
Watch Haaland's Salzburg hat-trick

• Was an instant UEFA Champions League sensation, bagging a hat-trick against Club Brugge on his debut, and registering in his next four games to become the first teenager to score in five consecutive matches in Europe's top club competition.

• His Champions League hat-trick was one of five trebles he struck for Salzburg that autumn. "I have five hat-trick balls in my bed and I sleep well with them," he joked. "They are my girlfriends."

• His form was so exceptional that Dortmund bought out his contract in the winter. Salzburg CEO Christoph Freund said: "It was neither our plan nor our wish to lose Erling; however, his development between July and December 2019 was so extraordinary and spectacular that it could not be predicted."

• Was already on the verge of leaving Austria when he was named the country’s Player of the Year for 2019. "The youngest ever and the first from abroad in ten years – that's something special," he said. "It is an honour for me."

Dortmund
• Came off the bench to net a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut on 18 January 2020 as his side won 5-3 at Augsburg, and had made it to eight goals for his new club in the space of four matches.

Watch Haaland highlights and hear from Dortmund's man of the match
Watch Haaland highlights and hear from Dortmund's man of the match

• Struck twice against Paris in the Champions League round of 16 to take his final tally for that European campaign to ten goals. Only Robert Lewandowski, with 15, outscored him in the 2019/20 competition.

Norway
• Won the golden boot at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, even though his team never got beyond the group stage; he plundered nine goals in a 12-0 victory over Honduras in Lublin, Poland. "I should have scored ten," he said. “It’s a shame, but in the end I'm happy with nine." His senior national-team debut followed a few months later, in September 2019.

• Scored his first senior international hat-trick in a 4-0 UEFA Nations League drubbing of Romania on 11 October 2020. "I should have had five, six goals today," he stressed.

What you might not know

Alf Inge Haaland with Leeds in 2000
Alf Inge Haaland with Leeds in 2000Getty Images

• Haaland was born in England while his father, Alf-Inge Haaland, was playing for Leeds, but moved to Norway aged three when injury forced the midfielder to retire. Aged 17, he counted himself as a Leeds fan, telling a Norwegian interviewer that his ambition was "to win the Premier League with Leeds".

• His mother was pretty sporty too; Gry Marita Braut was a pentathlete.

• Norway youth coach Gunnar Halle originally thought Haaland too slight to make it, until he bulked out in his late teens. Halle reckons he developed a lot mentally before that growth spurt gave him extra presence: "He had to learn to read a game back then."

• Has said he would love to meet Cristiano Ronaldo: "I would love to meet him and tell him that I am a footballer thanks to him. For me, he was always a model."

• Was also a big fan of former Swansea City forward Michu; Haaland tagged himself as Michu in Instagram photos while playing for Bryne, and gave the Spaniard respect in a more recent Twitter post.

• Keeps the Champions League anthem as his alarm tone – "I wake up to it every day, it's the last song I'd get tired of" – and put out an Instagram video of him listening to it in his car on the eve of a game.

What he says

"The media attention is huge. It's good pressure. The club is good at shielding me a little, but I hope it will be shielding me more in the future. It will be difficult, but we will try. I want to be shielded."

"I'm a very relaxed person that loves football. I like my family and spend a lot of time with them, and right now my life is about training, performing and enjoying. That’s how it is."

Haaland in the tunnel at Dortmund
Haaland in the tunnel at Dortmund©Getty Images

What he might achieve yet

• Get the better of his father. Haaland once said: "The goal is to become a better player than dad was. I hope to play more international matches than he did." Haaland Sr earned 34 caps.

• Become Norway’s top scorer – Jørgen Juve has had that honour since 1933, with 33 goals. Haaland can also aim to be Norway’s leading UEFA competition marksman – for the moment, Harald Brattbakk tops those rankings with 31 (including 21 in the Champions League).

• Help Norway reach a major final tournament; they lost to Serbia in the UEFA EURO 2020 play-off semis on 8 October. Norway have not appeared at a World Cup since 1998 or a EURO since 2000.

• Be Scandinavia’s all-time star performer. Henrik Larsson is Scandinavia’s top UEFA club competition scorer with 59 goals, while Haaland is a firm admirer of Zlatan Ibrahimović and hopes to eclipse his totals: 57 UEFA club competition goals as well as 62 for Sweden. "For me, Zlatan is the biggest. He is from Scandinavia, so someone has to take over from him."