Erling Haaland's nationality dilemma: Norse god in an England shirt?

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 18. travnja 2023.

Even though they have the striker position in their national team locked up with Harry Kane being world-class for years, English football fans had a short but wild daydream. One in which Erling Haaland's nationality aligns with theirs and he would wear the white shirt with blue shorts during international breaks. But how realistic was this fantasy ever?

Could Erling Haaland have played for England?

The short answer is yes. But alas, now it's too late for the Three Lions' fans to get ecstatic as Erling already reached 22 games for the Norway national team. Yet, for a brief time, there was hope.

Considering Erling Haaland's birthplace is not Bryne, Norway, where he grew up, but rather Leeds, England, the striker has the right to represent the UK nation. Or had, rather. Now, since he has already played more than one game for the senior side of Norway, his path is set. But was there ever a choice?

Erling was born in Leeds on July 21st 2000, yet West Yorkshire was only his home until 2023, because his father was playing for Leeds United until that year. His father then moved to Manchester City yet northern England isn't any more familiar to Erling who understandably doesn't remember those playing years of his father. Who retired in 2003 due to injuries.

"I was born in 2000 and I don’t remember going to the games with my mother. I only sometimes get flashbacks from that period, when seeing pictures of my brother, my sister and myself on our way to school when we still lived in England," said Erling.

From before he turned three, Erling was living in Bryne, on the southwest of Norway.

The tall striker made his Norway senior debut while he was a Red Bull Salzburg player, in the second half of 2019. Making a name for himself in the Champions League that autumn, England's football public urged the FA to sway the young prodigy. Grasping at his good knowledge of the English as a potential reason for why he might do it.

Yet Erling Haaland has represented Norway at every level since the U15 to the U21 level, garnering 46 appearances in international youth football.

Even England's manager Gareth Southgate had to respond to the idea, revealing that conversations were had.

"We’re always trying to monitor those cases, but I think in that instance he was tied up pretty early by Norway and I think also, with players like him, they’re quite clear where they want to play as well. He feels that allegiance to the country that he’s playing for now and you’re always very respectful of that," said Southgate.

While Erling was always respectful when handling this question, he has always stayed strong with his Norweigan identity.

As for the English fans, they were right to dream, as Haaland's international goalscoring record for Norway stands at 21 goals in 23 caps.

Sure, based on his place of birth Erling Haaland could’ve decided on playing for England in a more probable pursuit of trophies. Yet with him and Martin Odegaard, the Nordic country has two world-class players with the rest of the generation rising to higher levels quickly.

Even Erling himself has issued a rallying call, illustrating that other numerically smaller nations have managed to achieve great success on the biggest stage. So why not Norway?


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