- Erling Haland scorched Honduras for a staggering nine goals
- Norwegian forward eclipsed previous record by three goals
- Haland: “We just have to sit and wait now”
Erling Haland was not even born when Brazil’s Adailton helped himself to six goals against Korea Republic at Malaysia 1997 to set a new scoring record for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, a record that looked as if it would never be broken.
That was until the Norwegian came along and did the seemingly impossible in his country’s final Poland 2019 group match against Honduras on Thursday.
“I think the most important thing is how happy we feel at winning a match in the competition,” said Haland of a game in which he struck no fewer than nine goals. “Scoring is always fun, so I’m definitely feeling very happy tonight.”
Haland had failed to get on the scoresheet in his side’s first two matches, though Norway coach Pal Johansen knew the goals would come sooner or later: “He was the top scorer in the European qualifiers with ten goals so we know he can score at any time. He just needed a few games. He worked his socks off against New Zealand, had a lot of chances and pressed really hard too. Unfortunately, the goals didn’t come.”
A family affair
Though Haland is only 18, he plays with a maturity that sets him apart from the rest. The reason for that lies in the fact that the Haland family have lived and breathed football for many, many years, long before today’s hero was born.
His father is the former defender Alf-Inge Haland, who ran out for the likes of Leeds United and Manchester City between 1990 and 2003. Over the years young Erling has learned many things from watching his father, including the fact that he did not want to follow his lead and play in defence.
“I think being a defender is a bit boring and so I’ve always preferred playing up front,” said Erling with a smile. “I talk to him every day. He always gives me advice on how to be better at getting past defenders.”
There is no question that the date 30 May 2019 is one the young Haland will always remember. His name, his nine-goal haul and a record margin of victory in the U-20 world finals are now part of football history. The Norwegians still have some waiting to do, however. Having finished third in Group C, they need results elsewhere to go their way before they can celebrate reaching the last 16.
“It’s been a tough tournament with two defeats, but we’ve finally managed to win a game and that makes me proud of my team-mates,” said Norway’s record-breaking goal machine. “If we do have to go home after this, then at least we’ll be doing so on a high. However, I hope we do go through. It’s not in our hands but we did our job today. All we can do now is sit and watch the other games on TV.”