In some ways, it feels like Norway have become a football superpower overnight. They’ve always been on the periphery of world football without ever really causing too much of a commotion. Arguably, they’ve never been particularly bad or good without fear of being corrected. But in the blink of an eye, the national team now resembles one of the most talented generations the international football community has ever seen.
A lot of that has to do with Erling Haaland’s remarkable rise to the top of world football.
The 20-year-old is perhaps the most coveted player in the world at the moment with a line of suitors waiting to whisk him away to the most prestigious clubs in Europe over the summer, with Manchester City looking the likely destination.
Indeed, nicknamed the ‘Terminator’, you can understand why Norwegian fans are so optimistic about the future given that they will in all likelihood have the best player in the world leading the line at international tournaments.
City could win the Champions League and prove they are genuine contenders for European club honours – which looks a very real possibility, with them just 2/1 in the latest football betting odds. That makes it seems a mere formality that Haaland will put his faith in Pep Guardiola and make Manchester his new home next season. The Premier League should give Haaland the perfect stage in which to thrill the world.
But Haaland is only a part – albeit quite a big one – of the Golden Generation coming through the ranks, the players behind him are also some of Europe’s finest young talents. Haaland is set to challenge Kylian Mbappe over the next decade in a rivalry that will resemble something similar to the competition we’ve witnessed between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Occupying the left-wing is AC Milan’s Jens Petter Hague who seems destined to be one of the all-time greats of Norwegian football. Hague played a pivotal role in Bodø/Glimt’s first Eliteserien title win in their 104-year history in 2020 and in doing so became one of the most sought-after wingers in world football.
Keeping Hague company in midfield is Martin Ødegaard, who plays for Real Madrid but is currently on loan at Arsenal, while Sheffield United’s Sander Berge gives Norway more Premier League quality next to him in the centre of the park.
Kristoffer Ajer’s towering presence at centre-back means that goals are hard to come by for any team. The 22-year-old has been one of the mainstays of Celtic Football Club during their most dominant reign of Scottish football and like Haaland, can take his pick when it comes to a new destination in the summer, with Spurs and Ajax currently leading the race to sign him.
There are few nations in the world that can boast a team spine as talented as Norway’s one, not least in Scandinavia or the Baltic states. In many ways, this young Norwegian side is a breath of fresh air for northern and eastern Europe after years of underwhelming lows in the region (who can forget Lithuania dropping to 145th in the world rankings?).
The best, however, is still very much to come for this once-in-a-generation team. With an average age of just 26.2, this Norwegian side is yet to peak and should be at its strongest during the World Cup in 2026 in the United States. There will be some in the Norwegian Football Federation that will quietly believe that winning the World Cup is a very real possibility.