Ada Hegerberg: the tale of UEFA’s most prolific striker
If goals were ripe apples, Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, and Birgit Prinz were women who knew how to pick them in their day. The younger generation has their champion as well: Ada Hegerberg. The young Norwegian striker has enough goals in her career to open a chain of fruit stands.
Ada is a charmed name it seems. Many in the computing world will tell you Ada Lovelace is the first computer programmer. If there are doubters, no matter. Ada is now the nomenclature for a structured, high-level, object-oriented programming language. It's named after Ada Lovelace. That was the depth of her influence.
Hegerberg has done her best to make her name just as relevant in her chosen field. A vibrant, hardworking striker you can’t help but admire, she’s the Ada of the football world.
Despite the odds facing women in professional football Hegerberg chose to earn a living from this great sport very early in life. She made the choice before she became a teenager. It was a tough road with an uncertain destination. For most it's more often a dead end than a path to dreamland. Nevertheless this Ada was not going back. It was football or nothing for the blonde beauty.
Alongside her elder sister Andrine, Ada joined Sunndal Football in 2005. As a 10-year-old she loved playing up front, hurting defences, and scoring goals. Two years after joining Sunndal, her family moved. So did she. The destination was Kolbotn, a small town in Oppegard, Norway. Amongst others, a rational course of action for the Hegerbergs was to find a football club at which their girls could train. Kolbotn ILwas the popular club locally.
In 2010, Ada made her professional debut for a football club. At 15 she had reached dreamland but she kept going. By the end of her debut season, she had scored enough goals to be named Young Player of the Year in the Toppserien, the Norwegian elite league.
Following those impressive performances bigger clubs around Norway wanted her and her sister. Stabaek offered a fair deal. Her decision to become a full professional was paying off. Ada’s meteoric rise continued. She was the best-rated teenager in Norway. Her first season ended with 25 goals for the league runners-up. Since no one scored more, Hegerberg won the first Golden Boot of many.
Even for Stabaek, a respectable team in the Toppserien, keeping Ada Hegerberg in Norway was difficult. A move to Germany materialised. It was the first move abroad for the teenage striker. She didn't leave without her beloved sister, Andrine. The two had played together at every club. The Hegerbergs joined Turbine Potsdam in the Bundesliga.
The football culture in Germany aided Ada Hegerberg immensely. The rough edges on her shooting and positioning were polished. Her unimaginable potential became a hot topic for those who had caught a glimpse of her in action. After a year in the Bundesliga, it was time to move abroad once more.
In 2014, a French Division 1 side paid out her contract. Lyon needed a scorer to become even more invincible. Ada was that scorer. Her arrival in France further fueled her fame. She said bonjour with six goals in her first four games. A 19-year-old with so much prowess, kit manufacturer Puma approached her with a sponsorship deal. She didn’t say no.
By 2014-15's conclusion, the ever-smiling teenager had won her first league title and finished the season with 34 goals in 32 games. She was even more prolific in her second season with Lyon, piling up 54 goals in 34 games. Another Division 1 and a first Champions League title followed. Hegerberg asserted herself as the best 21-year-old striker in French football history.
In 2016 she was awarded the UEFA Best Player in Europe and named to the FIFPro World XI. Last year she was voted the BBC Women’s footballer of the year. She also helped Lyon to another treble.
This season, Ada Hegerberg hasn’t slowed down. Including a league-high 22 goals, she has scored 35 in 17 games for OL The numbers are staggering.
Already with well over 200 career goals and still only 22, Ada Hegerberg is living her dream. No one scores better.
"I have never regretted it. I work at doing what I love, I'm learning a new language and finding out about a new city. There is enough to do and when I think of all the things I have sacrificed, it's all worth it. It's my dream.