Only one player scored more goals in UEFA competition in 2016 than Cristiano Ronaldo – a 21-year-old Norwegian playing in France.
Ada Hegerberg was tipped for success from making her top-flight Norwegian debut for Kolbotn aged 15 and since then she has already racked up around 200 career goals on her way to the memorable year just gone, where she won all there was to win with Lyon and was voted UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe. We salute a player who could go one step further in a year that includes UEFA Women’s EURO 2017.
What they say
“Ada has a physical and mental strength above the norm. She is on her way to becoming the best player in the world.”
Jean-Marie Aulas, Lyon president
“A young player, but already a great player. It’s impressive to see just how mature she already is in her play. An exceptional goalscorer.”
Camille Abily, Lyon captain
“She has unconventional qualities. It is impressive how she has managed to make history in such a short space of time.”
Eugénie Le Sommer, Lyon attacker
“We are very happy that she is Norwegian. I would not want to be the coach who had to face her.”
Roger Finjord, former Norway coach
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International: 55 appearances, 35 goals
UEFA club competition: 23 appearances, 22 goals
Domestic competition: 146 appearances, 141 goals
Claims to fame
• At only 15, helped Norway to the 2011 UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship final.
• Her senior debut came the same year and Hegerberg captured headlines at UEFA Women’s EURO 2013, where she scored in the quarter-final defeat of Spain as Norway finished runners-up.
• Hegerberg was nominated for the Young Player Award at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the ten-goal joint-top scorer in UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 qualifying.
Kolbotn, Stabæk, Turbine Potsdam
• Having made her senior Kolbotn debut aged 15 in 2010, the following year she made headlines as she became the youngest-ever hat-trick scorer in Norway’s top dvision, taking just seven minutes to rack up three against Røa, who went on to become champions, conceding only 18 times in 22 matches.
• Having been Kolbotn’s top scorer in 2011, Hegerberg joined Stabæk, aiding them to Norwegian Cup success … with a final hat-trick against Røa. She was league top scorer on 25 goals.
• That success earned Hegerberg a move to Germany’s Turbine Potsdam and she scored on her Frauen Bundesliga debut against Freiburg.
• Lyon took Hegerberg to France in summer 2014 and in her first season she was league top scorer with 26 goals in 22 matches for the champions.
• The 2015/16 campaign was even more successful; not only did Lyon win the treble of UEFA Women’s Champions League, French League and French Cup, Hegerberg totalled 54 goals including a competition-leading 13 in Europe, opening the scoring in the final against Wolfsburg.
• She has already passed 100 goals for Lyon, managing the mark a year faster than the club’s all-time top scorer Lotta Schelin.
What you might not know
• In January 2016, Hegerberg became only the second woman to win the Golden Ball as Norway’s best footballer. The previous female recipient was Hege Riise after Norway won the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
• Hegerberg’s elder sister, Andrine, played along side Ada for Kolbotn, Stabæk and Potsdam and well as Norway at young and senior level. Ada said last year; We have a special chemistry. I hope we can exploit that [for Norway].”
• As a joke, Stabæk’s website once wrote that the pair were the daughters of humorous Norwegian rocker ‘Bare’ Egil Hegerberg. Many were taken in, and once they scotched the rumours, @BareEgilBand tweeted: “Few things are more painful than being rejected by your own children.”
• Hegerberg says: “I like books. I read a lot, to be honest. I have Norwegian favorites but I read everything from biographies to novels.”
What she says
“I’ve been working on the small details since I was very young. I think that what takes you a long way is hard work and commitment, doing your best every day, working on the little things, and I think my own season so far is the result of that.”
“To be honest I didn’t watch that much women’s football when I was younger. My favourite team is Arsenal and I always loved watching Thierry Henry in his best period of his career. I think he was the best player of the world at that time. His movement, finishing, and last but not least his hunger for always wanting to score goals – pure class.”
“I’ve developed a lot since I came to Lyon two years ago. Coming here with all these world-class players has really pushed me. I think it’s easy to say that a club like Olympique Lyonnais can just go and get a title, but there’s so much hard work behind it, every day in training, mentally and physically.”
“It is a joy to go to work every day doing what you love the most.”
What she might achieve yet
• At 21, who knows? First up is Lyon’s attempt to defend all the trophies they won last season, with Hegerberg joined up front for the rest of the season by high-profile United States striker Alex Morgan.
• In the summer comes the attempt to go one better than in 2013 as Norway go for the UEFA Women’s EURO title, having not won a major crown since the 2000 Olympics. Norway play hosts the Netherlands in the opening game on 16 July.
• The first three winners ofthe UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe Award – German trio Nadine Angerer, Nadine Kessler and Célia Šašić – all immediately retired (in Kessler’s case due to injury). The fourth winner Hegerberg could be a strong contender to make it two in a row next August.
• If Hegerberg’s prolific form continues, many scoring records could be her’s. One certainly in her sights is Marianne Pettersen’s Norway all-time tally of 66 goals, though Hegerberg’s team-mate Isabell Herlovsen, 15 ahead on 50 having made her debut six years earlier, might get there first.