Lyon wants Norwegian player for life

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Top Norwegian football player Ada Stolsmo Hegerberg has made such a great impression on the president of Lyon’s football club, which won its second Champions League in a row Thursday night, that he wants her to stay with the club for the rest of her career. 

Ada Hegerberg, from Sunndalsøra in the mountains of Western Norway, will already be back in action next weekend, playing for Norway’s national women’s football team in a match against the US in Sandefjord on June 11. PHOTO: Wikipedia

“I think Ada must stay with Lyon her whole life,” Lyon’s leader Jean-Michel Aulas told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Even though Hegerberg was sick with stomach trouble on Thursday, she still managed to play for 60 minutes in the crucial Champion League’s final against Paris Saint-Germain in Cardiff. Lyon won by a score of 7-6 after a dramatic series of penalty picks.

The 21-year-old Hegerberg has played for Lyon since 2003 and has a contract that runs until 2019. She smiled when told of Aulas’ hopes that she’ll stay on for life. “Then he has to come up with something,” she laughed, hinting at financial incentives, but quickly added that “I’m in the right place and they perhaps think the same. I have two years to go, then we’ll see what happens.”

Hegerberg also won another international honour this week, when the British TV giant BBC named her the women’s football player of the year for 2017. Hegerberg won on the basis of voting by BBC viewers and football fans worldwide. Last year she shared the stage with star men’s player Cristiano Ronaldo when they both were named European players of the year.

“It’s a great honour to win with so many major football players on the list of nominees,” Hegerberg told news bureau NTB after the BBC award was presented (by her own sister Andrine, who plays for Birmingham) during a break in training before Thursday’s championship match. She said it gave her “a boost, a good feeling and a lot of self-confidence after all the work I’ve put into training every day.”

Another Norwegian football legend, former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjær, was also hailing Hegerberg this week on the BBC. “Congratulations,” he told her, calling her prize “well-deserved.”

And then she ended the week and the season with her club winning its league, cup competition and the Champions League. “I’m proud to be part of this fantastic team,” Hegerberg said even before the final victory on Thursday. When it was confirmed, Hegerberg told NRK she felt “completely drained,” and then cried with joy live on camera.

“This is just so huge,” Hegerberg told NRK after the match. “This is fantastic.” She noted how it had been a “tough build-up” to the match, not least after she got sick and was uncertain whether she could play at all. “Herregud,” she exclaimed, “I figured this is the Champions League final. Then you just have to grit your teeth and get out there.”

There will be little rest for the weary. After a week off back in Lyon, where she intends to do some of her own training, she’ll travel home to Norway to join the national women’s football team, which will face off against the US next Sunday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund