Is Erling-Braut Haaland’s super season a fluke or the genesis of something truly special, the beginning of football’s next big super star?
Paris Saint Germain vs Borussia Dortmund was always meant to live up to the ionospheric hype and expectations surrounding it.
It was supposed to be an epic showdown between Kylian Mbappé of PSG and Jadon Sancho of England; two players who have been widely tipped to take over from Messi and Ronaldo as the best players of the next generation.
The night did prove to be memorable, but for another reason altogether, as Dortmund’s Norwegian teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland stole the show with a spectacular brace.
This was no breakthrough game however. He had properly announced himself to the world with a hat trick on his Champions League debut, one of six he has scored in this remarkable season. He didn’t stop there, finishing the group stage with 8 goals in six games.
This however was the game in which he proved he could do it on the biggest stage in club football: a UEFA Champions League knockout game. His brace tonight took him to ten goals in seven games, making him the joint top scorer in the competition and the fastest ever player to reach double digits in the Champions League.
To put this remarkable feat into context, Borussia Dortmund as a team have scored a total of ten goals, and the mighty FC Barcelona have scored nine. And he’s not only doing it in the Champions League either.
He had twenty eight goals in twenty one matches for Red Bull Salzburg in just the first half of the season, before transferring to Borussia Dortmund in January, where in one and a half months he has scored eleven goals in seven games.
In his first hundred club games, this nineteen year old phenomenon has scored sixty goals. At the same age, Kylian Mbappé had fifty two, Ronaldo Nazario had forty seven, Michael Owen had thirty seven, Lionel Messi had twenty six and Cristiano Ronaldo had seventeen.
Whispers of his name as one to watch out for began in May 2019 when he scored nine, yes you read that correctly, NINE goals in a single game against poor Honduras at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, shattering the record for the most goals scored in a single FIFA tournament game in the process.
He has often been described as a ‘freak of nature’ and a ‘lab experiment’ due to his electric pace and body frame. He is unbelievably rapid for a six foot four male weighing eighty seven kilograms.
This, coupled with a predatory instinct rivalled only by the highest echelon of elite strikers in the world, have made him a ‘cheat code’ against defences in Europe this season.
Despite all the talent a player may have, he can only reach the top in his career by being a model professional. And according to former RB Salzburg teammate Maximilian Wober, Haaland is just that.
“He is an absolute top professional. While we are playing cards on trips away, you can only see him reading some scientific articles on how he can improve his sleep or diet. He is always looking for the smallest details that he can improve to take another step forward.”
A blond haired, blue eyed giant, some people have even joked that had Hitler had a hundred of this Aryan machine, he could have won the war. And it’s not hard to figure out why. With his huge frame, rapid pace, apex predatory instincts and clinical finishing, Erling Braut Haaland is a complete arsenal on his own and can rip any defence to shreds on his day, which is almost everyday.
He is well and truly on the path of greatness.
By Nene Afadzinu
The writer is an intern at Media General