Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has said it was ‘natural’ for him to represent Norway at international level, despite being eligible to choose England instead.
Haaland first played for Norway at Under-15 level and made appearances at every age group until making his senior debut aged 19 in 2019. He has since scored 21 goals in 23 outings and is already only 13 shy of breaking the country’s all-time record, held by Jorgen Juve since 1937.
But Haaland, who will sit out the 2022 World Cup after Norway failed to qualify, could easily have chosen a different path and might have even been playing for England in Qatar this month.
It is well established that Haaland was born in Leeds, with the family based in England due to his father’s own football career. Alf Inge Haaland had moved to England from Norway in 1993 when he joined Nottingham Forest, switching to Leeds in 1997 and then joining Manchester City in 2000.
The transfer to City, a considerable £2.5m at the time, came just as Erling was about to be born.
“I lived [in England] for three and a half or four years,” Haaland Jr. explained to Goal.
But when Alf Inge’s career ultimately came to a premature end in 2003, the Haaland family returned to Norway. It was there that Erling went to school, grew up and started his football career by joining Bryne, his father’s former club, from the age of just five.
With his early life in England not much more than a distant memory, the decision to pledge his international career to Norway was never really in doubt when the time came.
“I lived in Norway for such a long time, so then it was natural for me to choose Norway,” he said.
“You never know how it would be if maybe my father played longer in England or whatever, maybe I would be English…I don’t know. But I’m Norwegian and I’m proud of it.”