Borussia Dortmunds striker Erling Haaland is known for short answers. Not so in the big exclusive interview with the Ruhr Nachrichten. Here comes the XXL version.

Dortmund

, 25.09.2020, 12:13 Uhr / Lesedauer: 7 min

Finally again Bundesliga, finally again with fans - finally again scoring goals: BVB striker Erling Haaland talks about his very own obsession. After his first six months in Dortmund, which began with a hat-trick at his debut in Augsburg and now continued with the double against Gladbach, the 20-year-old is finding his way around better and better, as he says. And the stormy Norwegian reveals much more in our XXL-Interview.

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Are you ready for your first interview in German?
I like the idea. But unfortunately that doesn’t work yet. The answers would be rather short.

You are already known and notorious for your short answers.
Well, if someone asks me what the weather is like, I answer: „Fine“. It is as simple as that. So it all depends on the questions - no matter in which language.

Then we ask for a detailed answer: Your Norwegian teammate Martin Ödegaard explained that you remember every single goal you have ever scored. Is that true?

Yes, that’s true. We can talk a lot about my goals. You already know that I love goals, that I love scoring goals. I’m obsessed with scoring goals.

BVB star Erling Haaland in our exclusive interview: „I want to remain the same Erling Haaland that I was a few years ago.“

BVB star Erling Haaland in our exclusive interview: „I want to remain the same Erling Haaland that I was a few years ago.“ © picture alliance/dpa

Then we’ll have to test your memory. Your first appearance at Borussia Dortmund, a 5:3 victory in Augsburg: Who provided the assists for your goals?

(immediately) The assists came from Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and Marco Reus.

And how many goals have you scored for Borussia Dortmund so far?

There are now 15 in the Bundesliga, two in the Champions League and one in the German Cup.

Okay, you have convinced us. How often do you look at your goals?

I look at them quite often. I try to get deeper and deeper into the subject of scoring goals. Not only with my own goals, but also with those of other players. How and where do they shoot, where are they positioned before the ball comes? How do they move? I analyze all these little details that could help me score more goals. So I looked at all my 44 goals from last season very often.

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BVB-Stürmer Haaland im Exklusiv-Interview

Are you satisfied?

(hesitates) You want to hear me say „yes“. But actually I think about how many chances I missed. So I have to say „no“.

What is the result of your analysis?

I could have easily scored more than 50 goals. That shouldn‘t sound arrogant. That’s simply good, because the potential is there. I will try to work on different things and become better and better.

Is there a number you are aiming for? What comes after 44?

I don’t have a number that I am fixated on. I’m a striker for Borussia Dortmund, we want to and have to win the vast majority of games. To do so, we must concede less goals and shoot more, and that is my task. I simply try to score and assist for as many goals as possible.

Do you have a favorite goal?

In a BVB jersey? I remember many good moments, for example from my debut in Augsburg or my first game at home in our own stadium. But I think I have to say that my favorite is the second goal in the Champions League game against PSG.

The long shot.

Yes, I like that very much.

You celebrated that goal in a Buddha position, as if you were meditating. Neymar and the Paris team reacted. Does that make it even more special?
I like my own celebration. That he wanted to do the same celebration as me is … just nice. I’m not complaining about that. When I scored a goal for Norway, I celebrated the goal like the Spaniard Michu. That’s what footballers do.

Always dangerous inside the box: Erling Haaland.

Always dangerous inside the box: Erling Haaland. © dpa

The best goal scorer in the Bundesliga gets a cannon as a trophy. Does that fit in your opinion?

The goal scorer list is not something I concentrate on. But as a striker for Borussia Dortmund I have to score goals. And as often as possible. And this Robert Lewandowski from Munich is pretty good too, you know (smiles).

If you score a lot of goals, what is possible for Borussia Dortmund this season? If you look at the squad and the experience you’ve gained so far.

The last part of last season was pretty strange for everyone because of the Coronavirus. But we continued to train and develop what made us strong. For example the home game against Paris: That was an incredibly strong performance from us. For me and for all of us it’s now about taking the next step. We need to win more of the tight games to get the points we need. BVB is a big club, with high expectations all over. I will try to do everything I can to take us to the next level.

How important is it for you to have at least some fans in the stadium? In general and for you personally?

That’s great, I keep my fingers crossed that it all works out in this test phase. Hopefully everybody is safe. And maybe we can extend the capacity and, in the end, fill the whole stadium again.

A whole lot to celebrate: Erling Haaland keeps the goals coming for Borussia Dortmund.

A whole lot to celebrate: Erling Haaland keeps the goals coming for Borussia Dortmund. © AFP

Are you a player who needs the audience?
Playing in front of 80.000 in the stands in Dortmund was the next level for me in my development. I enjoyed that a lot. I like it when people shout and cheer me on. I really missed the fans.

Two years ago you only played in Molde in front of a few thousand spectators. What changes for you on this bigger stage?
As you say, it’s a huge difference. Even when we played Champions League with Salzburg, there were only 25.000 fans. That’s just the „Südtribüne“, the yellow wall.

What about your own development? What grade would you give yourself for the past season?

That’s a good question. For me, last season had a lot of ups and some downs, too. I was sick in autumn, I had some trouble with my body after that in winter, when I came to Dortmund. I definitely learned a lot and will take these things with me for this season. I don’t want to give myself an exact grade.

Erling Haaland loves the yellow wall, and the yellow wall loves Erling Haaland. (Note: picture taken before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic)

Erling Haaland loves the yellow wall, and the yellow wall loves Erling Haaland. (Note: picture taken before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic) © imago images/Moritz Müller

Do you grow as a footballer when your opponents get stronger? What skills do you need to improve?

I still have to become a much better football player. As I said before, my finishing has to become even better, more clinical, more uncompromising. I also have to improve in the combination game with my team mates. I know that.

What about your header? Do you still practice it with Mats Hummels?

Yes, that’s also important. We are working on it (laughs).

How far have you progressed with your adaptation to the BVB type of football?

For the first half of the season it was okay, but it can still get better. The running routes, the set of plays: We harmonize better and better, and I feel good with the system. Coach Lucien Favre and I talk a lot about small things and details. We are making progress.

Erling Haaland practices his headers with center back Mats Hummels.

Erling Haaland practices his headers with center back Mats Hummels. © AFP

Do you have a long-term goal for your career?

To win titles!

Easier said than done.

It’s a simple answer, but difficult to achieve, that’s true.

We have heard that you like the German word „Malocher“. Can you explain why?

Yes! It’s the slang and that rough sound. I like these kind of words. „Malocher“ fascinated me from the second I first heard it. I also like these unusual words in Norwegian. We also have them in the farmlands in Norway where I come from. Maybe that’s why.

We saw you driving on a tractor in the summer. Was that „Maloche“ or did you just pose for a photo?

I have worked hard on my family’s farm, honestly. It was once again a wonderful experience.

Almost impossible to stop: If Erling Haaland goes full steam ahead, there‘s no slowing him down.

Almost impossible to stop: If Erling Haaland goes full steam ahead, there‘s no slowing him down. © AFP

So you are a real „Malocher“?

You can say whatever you want about me. On the pitch, I think so, yes.

We’ve heard that you practice many small things to improve your performance. For example, nightly ice baths or special glasses that filter the blue light from electrical devices.

Yes, I use ice baths very often, but not in the middle of the night. I see this as a key to squeezing out a few percent more power. And I use these special glasses in the evening. They help me to get a deeper and better sleep. For me it’s all about small details and percentage points to get better every day.

What else do you do?

I work with a fitness trainer from Lebanon, in these times digitally via Facetime. That has helped me a lot with my body. And my father Alfie was a professional footballer himself, he can teach me a lot. I have good people around me, I am happy and thankful for that.

What about nutrition? Mental preparation?

Every person is different, everyone has to find their own way to develop, as a person and as a footballer. For me it’s all about preparing for games and then regenerating as well and as quickly as possible. A good recovery is the key. And everything that helps me with this is good for me.

After last season every soccer fan knows you. Do you like being famous?

Honestly, when I was young, this is what I wanted. I am enjoying it, absolutely: to be famous. I enjoy this attention. Of course my life has changed a lot, there are some things that are no longer possible, especially in public. But I am not complaining, because this is what I wanted.

You choreographed your own goal celebration, invite to „questions and answers“ on Twitter, stream live on Instagram. Are you working on your own branding?
I have always told myself that I never want to change as a person just because I now play for Borussia Dortmund. I want to remain the same Erling Haaland that I was a few years ago. That is important for me. My friends and family know me well and ground me.

Superior athlete: Erling Haaland works with a personal trainer from Lebanon to improve his fitness.

Superior athlete: Erling Haaland works with a personal trainer from Lebanon to improve his fitness. © dpa

Does this enormous pressure from the great public perception give you additional energy, or does it distract you?

I like this pressure very, very much. I enjoy it in every game, every minute.

The bigger the stage, the better the Haaland?

Sounds good to me (laughs). Hopefully it’s true.

How do you deal with the pressure and stay concentrated at the same time?

The people who know me well can confirm that I have always been a relaxed and easy-going person. That was never a problem. But when I score a goal, I inhale this situation very deeply - and want to score a goal again immediately. It’s as simple as that. Take my debut in Augsburg, for example: After the first goal I was happy and wanted more of it. And the same with my first goal in front of the Südtribüne.

How much adrenaline is in your blood?

A lot, I suppose (laughs).

Becoming a better footballer: Erling Haaland draws two defenders in the German cup.

Becoming a better footballer: Erling Haaland draws two defenders in the German cup. © dpa

Sometimes it seems that young players are satisfied too early. Are you different?

I can’t talk about others. But I am never satisfied. Every day offers the chance to get better. So in the end it’s a question of mentality. I hope that I keep a clear mind and I hope the best Erling Haaland is yet to come.

Can you also imagine the sound of Nobby Dickel, the announcer in the stadium, when he calls „Erling“ and the audience answers „Haaland“?

I have already listened to it a few times on Youtube. I really missed that a lot until last weekend. Fortunately I scored twice against Gladbach. Two more goals bagged, I love it.

Since your sprint against Gladbach on Saturday, are you sad that you only switched to Borussia Dortmund after Usain Bolt’s trial training at BVB?

Directly after the match, someone came up to me and said I had broken the world record for 100 meters. At first I almost believed it. I already had the feeling during the sprint that I was going pretty fast (laughs). I did track and field as a kid – it paid off now.

A weather question at the end: Does the Bundesliga have to dress warmly before Erling Haaland’s first complete Bundesliga season, like in the Norwegian winter?

Wow, your pictures are really weird! But I like it (laughs).

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