"I feel like I'm going into some beautiful years of football and I'm just ready to enjoy it," says Norway's returning star striker as she looks ahead to UEFA Women's EURO 2022.
Article top media content
The all-time top scorer in the UEFA Women's Champions League with 59 goals, Ada Hegerberg is a modern phenomenon, but while she won the world's top club competition for a sixth time with Lyon this season, it was anything but a routine success.
Hegerberg was out of action for over 20 months with a cruciate ligament injury before returning to the pitch in October, and had not played for Norway since their ill-fated UEFA Women's EURO 2017 campaign, only agreeing to return in March this year. However, now she is back in the fold the 26-year-old is hoping that her side can produce a campaign to be proud of in England.
On returning to help Norway at UEFA Women's EURO 2022
Coming back was a huge thing for me. I felt it was the right time. Obviously, it was not a decision that happened overnight either, but I always have good dialogues with Lise Klaveness, who is the president of the Norwegian Football Federation. I'm very happy to be back with the girls. I'm very happy to see all these young kids but also older people in the stands.
I obviously want to see us lifting the EURO [trophy], but there are a lot of steps before that and predicting the winner of the EURO is very hard. Obviously, you have England, France... Sweden are always a strong team to count on. It's a long tournament; it's a tough one. It's all about taking it step by step. There are going to be some surprises for sure, but I can't tell you who is going to win it.
On winning the Women's Champions League this season with Lyon
I think it's very natural to have [negative] thoughts during such a long injury time. I would never say that I'd ever doubted myself and my ability to come back. Obviously, it was very tough mentally but also physically, but I've always had this sense of belief. I just stuck with good people who gave me good energy. I got great medical help and I took it day by day.
But at the same time, I've got to say that looking back at the season now, what we achieved, what I achieved personally after what I'd been through, it's almost emotionally very inspiring to continue. I don't stop here. I feel like I'm going into some beautiful years of football and I'm just ready to enjoy it.
On the ongoing challenge of winning her first EURO
The EURO is a very tough tournament. In 2013, we went to the final. We lost against Germany but we were very close to actually being European champions. And then we get to 2017, where we have a very tough tournament again. So, it's all about preparation – as a team, mentally – having plans, because it doesn't always go in the direction you want it to.
We have good qualities in our team. I think Guro Reiten and Caroline Graham Hansen have had very good seasons. Frida Maanum is coming back, which is a very important piece of our team with her leadership and experience. So, it's all about keeping that balance. Being realistic with where we are, but also having ambitions, so you don't get that big drop between the two. It can only get better after last time.
On the pressure on her to take Norway to the final
I don't feel any pressure and I think in any case it's a very good pressure. When you play for your country, it's all about creating this interesting relationship with the fans, and creating this realistic but ambitious vibe with them. That's why, going into a new tournament, I think we need to make high demands of ourselves because we know we have quality, and at the same time always know where we're at so we can always go in the right direction; not go too low but not go too high either.
I think we have quality, but you've got to make it work. You've got to play together and that's why I'm excited. Everyone's been with their own clubs, but now we get time to actually get together, train well, prepare well and have a good time together.