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Lyon and Norway forward Ada Hegerberg: A salute to the history-maker

The all-time top UEFA women's club scorer and now back with Norway: we salute Ada Hegerberg, a scorer in four of Lyon's finals victories.

 Ada Hegerberg with the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy after Lyon's win in the 2022 final
Ada Hegerberg with the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy after Lyon's win in the 2022 final Getty Images

Already the all-time top UEFA women's club goalscorer, Ada Hegerberg continues to leave her mark on the game after scoring in the 2022 UEFA Women's Champions League final to help Lyon defeat Barcelona 3-1 and claim their eighth title.

For the Norwegian forward, it was a fairy-tale end to a season in which she returned from serious injury, having suffered an ACL rupture in January 2020 and a stress fracture in her left tibia in September that year.

Hegerberg finally re-entered the fray on the inaugural night of the very first Women's Champions League group stage away to Häcken in October 2021. Just over a month later, on 14 November, she ended her 707-day wait for a goal when she struck against Paris Saint-Germain, adding another within three minutes.

She was then back among the European goals on 9 December with two at Benfica, passing 50 in Europe for Lyon – the first player to score that many for a single club. And after nearly five years away from the Norway team, she returned to the international fold with a hat-trick against Kosovo on 7 April, just a few months ahead of UEFA Women's EURO 2022.

Hegerberg voted Best Women's Player in Europe 2015/16

These are exciting times for a player first tipped for success after making her top-flight Norwegian debut for Kolbotn aged 15, since when she has racked up more than 300 career goals, including a record 15 in the 2017/18 Women's Champions League. In 2015/16, she was voted UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe, and with the inaugural 2018 women's Ballon d'Or also in her possession, we salute a player boasting a goal haul that would be the envy of strikers a decade older than her 26 years of age.

What they say

Ada Hegerberg on her Norway comeback against Kosovo
Ada Hegerberg on her Norway comeback against KosovoNTB/AFP via Getty Images

"Ada has a physical and mental strength above the norm. She is on her way to becoming the best player in the world."
Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon president

"A young player, but already a great player. It's impressive to see just how mature she already is in her play. An exceptional goalscorer."
Camille Abily, former Lyon captain

"She has unconventional qualities. It is impressive how she has managed to make history in such a short space of time."
Eugénie Le Sommer, Lyon forward

"A lot of people must be happy about [her] comeback. The whole of women's football must be happy; she is a great player and has gone through many difficult times. She had tears of joy."
Sonia Bompastor, Lyon coach

"She has performed to a world-class standard and delivered goal after goal on the biggest football stages for a number of years. Of course, getting her back means a lot to the Norwegian national team."
Martin Sjögren, Norway coach after her March 2022 recall

Claims to fame

Norway

• At only 15, helped Norway to the 2011 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final.

Watch Hegerberg strike for Norway at Women's EURO 2013

• Her senior debut came the same year and Hegerberg captured headlines at Women's EURO 2013, where she scored in the quarter-final defeat of Spain as Norway finished runners-up.

• Hegerberg was nominated for the Young Player Award at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and was the ten-goal joint-top scorer in Women's EURO 2017 qualifying.

• Those finals were a disappointment, and soon after Hegerberg sensationally quit the national team. However, in March 2022 she was welcomed back to the squad not long before another Women's EURO and started on 7 April against Kosovo, taking 21 minutes to score, two to get another, and completing her hat-trick on the hour.

Kolbotn, Stabæk, Turbine Potsdam

• Having made her senior Kolbotn debut aged 15 in 2010, the following year she made headlines as she became the youngest-ever hat-trick scorer in Norway's top dvision, taking just seven minutes to rack up three against Røa, who went on to become champions, conceding only 18 times in 22 matches.

• Having been Kolbotn's top scorer in 2011, Hegerberg joined Stabæk, aiding them to Norwegian Cup success... with a final hat-trick against Røa. She was league top scorer on 25 goals.

• That success earned Hegerberg a move to Germany's Turbine Potsdam and she scored on her Frauen Bundesliga debut against Freiburg.

Watch all Hegerberg's goals in Lyon's 2015/16 winning run

Lyon

• Lyon took Hegerberg to France in summer 2014 and in her first season she was league top scorer with 26 goals in 22 matches for the champions.

• The 2015/16 campaign was even more successful; not only did Lyon win the treble of the Women's Champions League, French league and French Cup, Hegerberg totalled 54 goals including a competition-leading 13 in Europe, opening the scoring in the final against Wolfsburg.

• Hegerberg was named UEFA best women's footballer in Europe for 2015/16 and in the calendar year 2016 scored more goals than anyone else in UEFA competitions, pipping Cristiano Ronaldo.

• Another treble followed in 2016/17, a season that included Hegerberg being named BBC Women's Footballer of the Year.

• The 2017/18 season was another spectacular campaign for Hegerberg, whose 53 goals included a record 15 in the Women's Champions League (putting her in the top ten of the competition all-time goalscorers' list at 22) as Lyon made it three wins in a row.

• She extended her contract until 2021 and by the time she received the first women's Ballon d'Or award in December 2018, she was already close to 20 goals for the season.

• Ended 2018/19 with another treble, and a hat-trick in the Women's Champions League final against Barcelona, something only achieved once before (by Inka Grings for Duisburg in 2009).

• Hit the ground running the following season, not least with nine goals in her first four European appearances to overtake Anja Mittag's competition record of 51.

• An ACL injury in January 2020 followed by knee surgery in September ruled her out for the rest of that year, but it ended with her signing a new Lyon contract until 2024.

• Hegerberg's return came on 5 October 2021 away to Häcken on the first night of the inaugural Women's Champions League group stage.

• Used as a substitute as she was nursed back to full match sharpness, Hegerberg's 707-day wait for a goal (most of it spent sidelined) ended when she struck in a league encounter with Paris Saint-Germain, and for good measure she scored again within three minutes to seal a 6-1 win.

• On 9 December came her European comeback goals away to Benfica, her 50th and 51st for Lyon in the competition. She also added a crucial quarter-final goal against Juventus and another as they beat Paris in the semis to made another decider, then scoring OL's second in their final defeat of Barcelona again.

What you might not know

• In January 2016, Hegerberg became only the second woman to win the Golden Ball as Norway's best footballer. The previous female recipient was Hege Riise after Norway won the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Ada (right) with Andrine in 2011
Ada (right) with Andrine in 2011©Sportsfile

• Hegerberg's elder sister, Andrine, played along side Ada for Kolbotn, Stabæk and Potsdam, as well as Norway at youth and senior level. They faced off for the first time in 2017/18 after Andrine joined Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon drawing a league game 0-0 but losing a rain-interrupted French Cup final 1-0.

• As a joke, Stabæk's website once wrote that the pair were the daughters of humorous Norwegian rocker 'Bare' Egil Hegerberg. Many were taken in, and once they scotched the rumours, @BareEgilBand tweeted: "Few things are more painful than being rejected by your own children."

• Hegerberg says: "I like books. I read a lot, to be honest. I have Norwegian favourites but I read everything from biographies to novels."

• Hegerberg is from a family of Leeds United fans, tweeting when they were promoted back to the Premier League in July 2020: "We (as in Mum, Andy and me) literally have been through their pain throughout 16 years for this Congrats @LUFC & all supporters !!"

What she says

"I've been working on the small details since I was very young. I think that what takes you a long way is hard work and commitment, doing your best every day, working on the little things, and I think my own season so far is the result of that."

"To be honest, I didn't watch that much women's football when I was younger. My favourite team is Arsenal and I always loved watching Thierry Henry in the best period of his career. I think he was the best player in the world at that time. His movement, finishing, and last but not least his hunger for always wanting to score goals – pure class."

"I've developed a lot since I came to Lyon two years ago. Coming here with all these world-class players has really pushed me. I think it's easy to say that a club like Olympique Lyonnais can just go and get a title, but there's so much hard work behind it, every day in training, mentally and physically."

"It is a joy to go to work every day doing what you love the most."

Hegerberg celebrates her goal in the 2018 final
Hegerberg celebrates her goal in the 2018 final©Getty Images

[After her serious injury in January 2020] "This is a setback for me, but I'm going to work through this with all my heart and my energy. The best is yet to come. YOU'LL SEE ME SOON!"

"I can see the impact all the success that I've had with Lyon has not only had on young girls but also young boys in Norway. I feel that's a big game-changer."

[After extending her Lyon contract in December 2020] "At heart, this is my club. I wanted to extend my contract from the start because there was no doubt in my head. OL have always been the number-one option. It gives me additional peace of mind to come back even stronger now."

[On her return in October 2021] "I'm not coming back to stand still; I'm coming back to keep it that way and keep the statistics high, because that's a record I intend to keep as long as I play. That scoring record is definitely something I'm proud of."

[On her international comeback] "I love football, and I want to play football. I took a decision in 2017 that I stood by. But I had lot of time to reflect over the past two years, on many aspects. I was able to have very honest discussions with the federation, firstly through Lise [Klaveness, former team-mate and now Norwegian Football Federation president]. I am very glad to be able to come back with the team and get a new story started."

What she might achieve yet

• Hegerberg leads the all-time Women's Champions League scorers' list, getting to 50 European goals faster than any other women or man. She seems likely to establish a lead similar to that held by Cristiano Ronaldo in the men's competition, with a century not beyond reach.

• She was part of the Lyon side that became the first to win four straight European titles, scoring in the 2016 and 2018 finals against Wolfsburg and topping the season's goal charts both times, before her 2019 showpiece heroics against Barcelona. She was denied another personal triumph in the 2020 final due to injury, but returned to find the net in a fourth final two years later.

• The first three winners of the UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe Award – German trio Nadine Angerer, Nadine Kessler and Célia Šašić – all immediately retired (in Kessler's case due to injury). The fourth winner Hegerberg seems more likely than not to add to her tally, though she lost out to Pernille Harder and Lucy Bronze in 2017/18 and 2018/19 prior to her injury.

• Norway have won four major titles but none since the 2000 Olympics. Hegerberg still has several chances ahead to end that wait, alongside Norway's other star names.