Ada Hegerberg is back in the goals after injury and tells UEFA.com about her excitement as Lyon face Barcelona in another final.
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When the new season started, Ada Hegerberg had not played since a serious injury in January 2020 and it was far from clear whether the player who had become all-time leading UEFA women's club competition scorer just a few months before would be able to return as one of the deadliest strikers in the game.
On Saturday, she will lead the line for Lyon against Barcelona in her fifth and her club's tenth UEFA Women's Champions League final, having scored five goals in a run that – once Hegerberg returned in the autumn – proved the 26-year-old remains a forward to be feared. That is bad news for Barcelona, who found themselves four goals down to Lyon at half-time during their first final in 2019, due largely to a Hegerberg hat-trick.
Barcelona have come a long way since finishing runners-up in Budapest and indeed were crowned European champions last season, Lyon's five-year reign having been ended in the quarter-finals. Ahead of facing Barcelona in Turin, Hegerberg spoke about the "second part" of her career, what the Women's Champions League means to her, Lyon's task against Barça, and why having scored 58 in 59 European games leaves her "one goal down".
On recovering from serious injury…
Life is good. I've been happy ever since I got back, and enjoying every day. I've got to say it's been a long road, so being able to be in another final again with this team is incredible. You've got to [seize] the moment. It's a cliché, but enjoy every day and just give everything.
It is a renaissance, no doubt about it. But I feel like I used that time to work on different aspects of my game and how I think. I've learnt to take care of my body at a completely [different] level recovery-wise, eating well. So, I'm kind of all set to attack the second part of my career: just work hard, have no limits, set no limits, and just see where it takes me and where it takes the team as well.
On the UEFA Women's Champions League…
The Champions League is, for me, the most beautiful tournament you can play in. I think it's just so historic; it has the best players in it, the best teams. There's just something magical about playing those games, the importance behind it. You know there's interest, momentum and people coming to games. Everything about it is so exciting. It's like we all wake up an extra inch [taller] when it's a Champions League week. So, going to another final is a very nice feeling.
On Lyon recovering from being dethroned last season...
You had to show up to a new season with the same ambition. You had to think anew. We had to analyse ourselves, thinking, "What do we need to continue with, and what do we need to change in order to get there again?" And I swear that it's maybe the hardest thing in football: staying on top year in, year out. When you look back on it, it's like, "It shouldn't happen, being able to win five years in a row." So I wouldn't [dismiss] the fact that we did that.
It's going to be written down deep, deep in my heart, but also in history. And then we got a little smack in the face, I would say, last year, which is necessary sometimes as well. It is necessary. As long as you look at yourself in the mirror and think, "How can we do better next year in order to stay top dog?" So, it's a brutal situation to be in, but you have to use that situation to do something good, do something positive.
Ada Hegerberg in the UEFA Women's Champions League
Goals: 58 (record)
Finals played: 4
Finals won: 4 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Final goals: 5
Top goalscorer: 2015/16, 2017/18
Most goals in a season: 15 (2017/18, record)
A very strong team. They've had the time, I feel, to really keep the same players, to get to know each other. They play very interesting, possession-oriented football, with a lot of smart movements as well. They're very smart in finding the right space at the right time.
They won very deservedly last year, and you can see also that they've been cruising in their league, and they've been very convincing, especially in the [semi-final] first leg against Wolfsburg. These are the games you want to play, and we've got to focus on ourselves and just be tip-top ready to meet them.
"I'm very excited about it, the whole team is. It's going to be one of the games in football history."
On the hype surrounding Hegerberg vs fellow Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas...
I think the more interest you can [generate] around these games, the better. It's all about profile-making, getting women's football on the agenda, and obviously Alexia is a fantastic football player as well. So, it's going to be a very good one. I'm very excited about it, the whole team is. It's going to be one of the games in football history. I'm looking forward to it.
On being all-time competition top scorer…
I've kind of still got control of my statistics in the Champions League. That's how I like to have it clear in my head. I know that I'm one goal down in terms of games. I'm at 58 goals in 59 games. I think it's just nice to have that statistic clear in my head.