English Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund’s Golden Boy Erling Haaland only at the beginning of the Golden Run for the decade as records keep falling

Erling Haaland has been phenomenally scoring goals over the last 18 months – slamming, tapping and heading them in with apparent ease and infinite grace of movement any which way he can.

The Norwegian wunderkind has just been most appropriately garlanded for his quintessential run of form with the latest Golden Boy award, given by Italian newspaper Tuttosport to the best player aged 21 or younger playing in a top flight league in Europe.

Haaland is notably the second Borussia Dortmund player to win the award after Mario Götze, who won the award in 2011. His achievement is no less commendable after having left behind a trail of worthy competitors including the likes of Borussia Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho, Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies, Barcelona winger Ansu Fati, Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden and several other immensely talented youngsters from all over the European continent.

Evidently, Haaland obviously has much in common with the game’s crème de la crème, not least the ability to score goals by the bucketloads, even in the earlier days of his youth with 16 goals in 30 matches in his third full season as a pro in Norway earning ‘the Manchild’ the 2018 Eliteserie Breakthrough of the Year award.

Then following up on that in just under 12 months at his next station, Red Bull Salzburg, he ravaged and plundered 29 goals in 27 appearances, including 5 hat-tricks.

As his one-year anniversary approached, proudly donning Dortmund colors, Haaland went on to boast an even better strike rate.

Relentlessly blazing the Haaland trail across 31 competitive assignments in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, German Supercup and UEFA Champions League, the ‘Erlingator’ has put away some 31 goals, so far. That’s an amazing 1.06 per game, no less.

A breakdown of his unbelievable numbers underscores just how far ahead of the curve Haaland is.

With 3 stunning goals in 20 second-half minutes in his Bundesliga debut in Augsburg, Erling Braught Haaland emphatically announced his arrival at the Bundesliga by being the German top tier’s second-youngest hat-trick scorer, and the division’s first substitute debutant to strike three times in one game.

Not content to rest on his laurels, the youngster immediately followed up on his debut splash with a brace in the following game against Cologne, this time ending up being the first player in Bundesliga history to score 5 immaculate goals in his opening two games. That notwithstanding, he’s also the first to net 7 in his first three, 8 in his opening five and 9 in his maiden six matches.

In all of only 22 appearances into his Bundesliga career – the most recent of which was clearly highlighted with 4 brilliant goals in 33 minutes in a 5-2 rout of Hertha Berlin – Haaland has helped himself to 23 goals, effectively breaking German football legend Uwe Seeler’s record of scoring 20 goals in his first 22 league games.

Unsurprisingly by now as the football world begins to get accustomed to this God-gifted football prodigy of the ages and his incredulous feats on the pitch, the earlier remarkable youthful achievements of other-worldly celebrities seem to pale in comparison.

Robert Lewandowski of current Bayern Munich fame and prominence was 23-and-a-half with 56 matches into his Bundesliga career when he reached the same tally. A 20-year-old Lionel Messi of arguable GOAT fame achieved that particular mark on his 53rd La Liga outing, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s 23rd English Premier League goal was struck three months prior to his 21st birthday, in his 115th appearance. The statistics don’t lie.

Haaland’s latest Champions League exploits extol his predatorial goal-scoring qualities in a similarly commanding light after he joined Dortmund as the first player in the competition’s history to have found the net with his first 4 efforts on goal, and with 8 strikes in six group games under his belt.

The lanky lad then cooly signed off his 2019/20 campaign with a brilliant flourish, and a magnificent brace, in Dortmund’s final round of 18 first-leg win over eventual runners-up Paris Saint-Germain, in all taking his debut season tournament tally to 10 goals. Bayern Munich’s 15-goal winner, Lewandowski, was the only other player who scored more.

Currently in only four group matches into the 2020/21 season, viking Haaland is the one again undoubtedly setting the pace with 6 goals at an average of 1.57 per 90 minutes. Lewandowski has so far scored twice, Messi thrice and Ronaldo only one. Again the astounding statistics speak loud and clear.

Erling Haaland is already the principal record scorer in the competition, cementing the fact that no player in all of Europe has ever reached 16 career Champions League goals in fewer games.

The Champions League’s all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo needed 52 games to achieve that. Messi, second in the charts, required 29. Lewandowski – one short of the top three – comes closest in this select group of football immortals to Haaland with 16 goals in his first 26 matches.

He has also now scored more Champions League goals than Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, and Miroslav Klose.

Statistically, Haaland bears all the hall-marks of becoming a generational player without even the slightest hint of when he will peak – with form and fitness being the usual caveats. All that’s clearly obvious so far judging by his stellar performances is that he’ll most likely be smashing in those wonderful goals long into his 30s, much in the same vein as Lewandowski, Messi and Ronaldo.

Assuming that this whizkid’s lanky 6’4″ inch frame continues to hold up and he maintains his razor-sharp focus, the Norway international’s prolific numbers at only 20 years of age suggest he could considerably out-distance the goal-scoring feats of all the abovementioned luminaries as scoring consistently week in and week out at the highest level is seemingly child’s play for this 2020 fleet-footed Golden Boy award winner who was actually recorded with a 60m sprint speed of 6.64 seconds in a match against Paris Saint-Germain in February, just 0.3 seconds off the world record.

Haaland’s incredible meteoric rise to stardom has seen him break records at almost every turn.

After his latest record breaking performance in Dortmund’s 3-0 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League recently, teammate Jadon Sancho, who scored the team’s other goal against Brugge and certainly no pushover himself, said he loved playing alongside the striker.

“Erling is a fantastic player,” he said.

“It’s fun to create chances for him. I’m delighted to be playing alongside him. He works every day on and off the pitch.”

So it now looks like where once there were only two things in life that are universally-acknowledged certainties, there are now three – death, taxes, and Erling Braut Haaland scoring goals.