Martin Ødegaard, Norway’s 18-year-old football “wonderboy,” enjoyed a warm welcome last weekend when he made his debut for the Dutch team Heerenveen. He’s hoping to get more playing time at the next match.
“It was good to debut and great to start off with a victory,” Ødegaard told news bureau NTB after Heerenveen had beaten Den Haag 2-0. Ødegaard’s Dutch debut came after he’d been loaned out the week before from the club that won the bidding for him, Real Madrid. Football experts predicted that it will be a good move for the young football comet who grabbed attention all over Europe for his brilliant teenage performances at home in Norway.
He seemed to sink into oblivion after arriving in Spain but Real Madrid has had a plan for him. It now includes lending him out to Heerenveen, possible until the summer of 2018.
Hallvar Thoresen, a former Norwegian pro footballer who spent 12 years playing in the Netherlands, is convinced Ødegaard will thrive in Heerenveen. “Ødegaard and Dutch football go together hand-in-glove,” Thoresen told newspaper Aftenposten. “This transfer feels very right, given his talent and abilities.”
Thoresen, who works today as chief scout for top Norwegian club Rosenborg, stressed that Ødegaard’s creativity, unexpected moves and one-on-one play will blossom in the Dutch league. His strong sides will be strengthened, according to Thoresen. “And the Dutch really like the type of offensive football that Ødegaard stands for,” he said.
Ødegaard certainly got a warm welcome when he entered the field at the end of last Sunday’s match against Den Haag. Fans had already been singing a song about him and the applause were long and loud when he first got hold of the ball.
He’d been expected to sit on the bench for his first match wearing #17 in Heerenveen’s red-white-and-blue uniform. Instead, he was sent in for two minutes by coach Jurgen Streppel, who seemed to respond to the crowd’s singing.
Ødegaard himself had been concentrating too hard on the game to pay full attention to the crowd, “but it’s nice they wanted me on the field. Hopefully I’ll get more minutes (on the field) next time.”