Erling Haaland is the obnoxious FIFA player of your nightmares turned real
With his brace against Sevilla, which saw Dortmund progress to the Champions League quarter-finals after a 5-4 aggregate victory, Haaland is now up to 20 goals in the competition, surpassing Kylian Mbappe as the youngest player to reach the number.
Not only is he the youngest, but he’s done it in record time. Miraculously, just 14 games – 10 quicker than the previous record-holder, Harry Kane. To put that in context, Lionel Messi took 40 games to get there and Cristiano Ronaldo needed 56.
That’s all mindblowing enough, but perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that Wayne Rooney scored 30 goals in the competition proper in his entire career.
That’s England and Manchester United’s all-time top goalscorer, who played 11 Champions League seasons, got to three finals and won it once, getting quickly caught up by a lad that doesn’t turn 21 until the summer.
The numbers barely make sense, yet when you watch Haaland on the pitch and see the way he carries himself, you start to get an understanding of how he’s doing it. There’s no other way to put it, the kid is a machine.
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Unlike Mbappe, who so uncannily mirrors Thierry Henry and prime Ronaldo Nazario, there’s no obvious reference point for Haaland, whose physical build and athletic prowess look like they belong in another sport.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who handed his compatriot his senior debut aged 16 at Molde, says that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an inspiration for him.
“Ibrahimovic is not very Scandinavian in his approach, we’re a bit more quiet & non-controversial — there’s so many kids out there that have him as a role model,” the Manchester United manager said. “I know one for example, Erling. I know he’s learnt that behaviour.”
The two undoubtedly share an unwavering self-assuredness. With Ibrahimovic, however, there’s a sense of pantomime, delving into the realm of self-caricature.
But off the pitch, there’s no theatre about Haaland, who conducts his post-match interviews with the enthusiasm of a teenager helping out his mum at a car boot sale.
– Haaland scores
– Haaland has the goal disallowed
– VAR gives penalty from previous phase of play
– Haaland misses it
– VAR demands a re-take
– Haaland scores his second attempt
– Haaland is booked for his celebration
Over seven minutes of chaos from Dortmund vs. Sevilla! 😂 pic.twitter.com/QjI4CLQs8r
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 9, 2021
He’s not putting on a facade when he talks through a game with a nonchalant shrug, and he’s even unerringly casual when giving it the big one to the opposition.
Having already opened the scoring against Sevilla, to add to the two he scored in the first leg, Haaland saw a belter of a goal controversially ruled out after Fernando bounced off him in the build-up, but he soon had an opportunity to get his second from the penalty spot after VAR spotted an earlier infringement.
He even got two bites of the cherry, after Bono was judged to have crept off his line when saving the first effort. The Sevilla goalkeeper was soon made to regret taunting the striker, who made no mistake with the retake.
After giving it back to Bono, he sprinted away, launching into a trademark acrobatic celebration, hilariously unaware of the mob of red and white shirts chasing after him.
“I missed and Bono laughed. So I shot again and he was no longer laughing,” Haaland told reporters after the Sevilla match, with a vibe of The Terminator reading a book on shithousing.
“When he shouted at me after the first penalty, I thought, ‘I better score another goal,’ and that’s what happened, so great.
“That’s normal in this world. I have no idea what I yelled at him, I said the same thing he said to me. I don’t know what it meant.”
It's just Erling Haaland doing the most Erling Haaland interview 😂 pic.twitter.com/53E2GPHfX1
— Spieltag Indonesia (@SpieltagIndo) March 10, 2021
Haaland resembles the most obnoxious FIFA player of your nightmares turned real, a shit-talking moody manchild that’s impossible to stop scoring and humiliating you.
The worst thing about it, as you get more irate rematch after rematch, is the effortlessness with which he’s winning.
Haaland is reaching heights previously unthinkable for a player his age and looks set to dominate the game for the next decade at least.
Get used to this. As he continues scoring, pissing off his opponents and looking completely nonplussed when asked to explain how he does it, you’d never know he’s got the world on his shoulders.