Erling Haaland seemed to shoot right to the top of European football without warning.
Back in May 2019, the young striker was still a little-known Norwegian playing at the U-20 World Cup.
Whilst there, he smashed his way into the tournament’s record books by scoring nine goals in a single game against Honduras.
Much of the world was still sleeping on the prodigious teenager, though not RB Salzburg, who had been closely monitoring his progress at Molde.
Despite failing to score a senior goal at Bryne, his first club, a tally of 14 goals in 39 appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjær was enough to convince the Austrian franchise that they had stumbled upon a generational talent.
The rest, as they say, is history. A year at the Red Bull Arena brought a further 17 goals in 16 appearances and perhaps most importantly, an introduction to the Champions League.
Haaland remains the most in-demand 19-year-old on the planet having signed for Borussia Dortmund in January with a carefully-inserted release clause of just £63 million.
However, he might have remained little more than a trivia answer, the son of former Manchester City man Alf-Inge Haaland, had a quirk of fate not changed his career back at Molde.
Toulouse defender Ruben Gabrielsen has recalled to Get Football News France how a much slighter young man was seen as nothing special by his teammates in Norway, before he spent a period of injury putting in the hard yards in the gym.
“When he came to the club, he was a small guy… he was not so good to be honest with you. I was just thinking “Yeah, maybe he can play in Norway…” Gabrielsen said.
“And then he got sick and injured, and we didn’t see him for a long time, and he came back big as f***… he was so big! He was a different animal!
“He was killing everybody in training… we just started laughing and I was like, “Who is this guy?” And then it just skyrocketed from there. I’m just laughing when I see him on the telly and he’s banging in goals in the Champions League.
“I’m just laughing. And when he bullies defenders, I’m just laughing because I’ve been there!”
Back at Molde
It takes some digging, but there are vintage photos of Haaland as a kid at Molde before he bulked up.
Here he is more recently. Remember, he’s still just 19 years of age now.
Gabrielsen also revealed Haaland got far more attention than most players of his age in their homeland.
“In Norway, if you’re young and you play, you get attention but it’s not crazy,” he added.
“But if you’re like Haaland or something you will get attention.”
It’s so often assumed the Dortmund starlet’s gifts are solely down to natural talent.
Judging by these stories, he has that Ronaldo-esque mentality too that can take him right to the top.
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