Ada Hegerberg: “I haven’t reached my maximum potential yet”

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Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg is barely into her mid-20s and has already enjoyed a great deal of success.

But the 24-year-old striker believes that she is yet to reach her ‘maximum potential’ despite walking away with the 2018 women’s Ballon d’Or award and racking up more than 300 career goals, including a record 15 in the 2017/18 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Hegerberg is a serial winner and lethal goal scorer. Last season, the Olympique Lyonnais star in the Division 1 Féminine had another great campaign, netting 53 goals and won the Champions League for the fourth time, sealing victory her 16-minute hat-trick in the final against Barcelona.

On top of that, Hegerberg was voted UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe during the 2015/16 season and in the calendar year 2016 she scored more goals than anyone else in UEFA competitions, pipping Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, the 24-year-old star’s 2019/20 ended after she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament – ruptured the ACL in her right knee in January during training.

With the suspension of competitive football, Hegerberg says everything is going very well at the moment and she is sticking to the Lyon schedule.

“The knee is doing very well. I turned a corner after the first two and a half months as I was told that would be the most complicated period, so I’m very confident now,” Hegerberg told FIFA.com.

“But the situation hasn’t changed anything and my recovery programme remains the same. My philosophy is to take however long I need to recover so that when I come back, I do so at 100 per cent of my ability.

“You have to work to get back to playing, but also to come back even stronger, which is my ambition. It’s a mental and physical challenge and one that’s making me grow,” – Hegerberg. 

“The biggest motivation of my career is to reach my maximum potential. And I haven’t done that yet! If I can do that, then I’ll be happy the day I retire. That’s what motivates me every day,” she said.

“I hope to stay at the highest level as long as possible and make the most of it, because it goes very quickly. That’s what I’ve always heard from older team-mates: that one’s career goes by so fast that you have to do all you can to reach your full potential.

“The goal now is to reach the next stage. I don’t think I’ll be the same player when I come back, because I’m going through a different period, mentally and physically. I’m looking forward to it with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation,” added the Norwegian striker.

With many charismatic players such as Megan Rapinoe and Marta, who are striving to develop women’s football near the end of their careers, Hegerberg says she is ready to take up the torch.

“Yes, but firstly and most importantly, I have to make my comeback, play football and be a performer. It must always stem from the game, so first I want to give my all on the pitch.

“That said, it’s almost impossible to be a footballer today without battling off the pitch too. There is so much to be done, and we want things to improve and for the right conditions to be in place.

“The fact that many of the voices that carry weight are more experienced players at the end of their careers also shows that it is not always easy to be heard. There’s a lot of criticism and judgment both in society and sport. Maybe when you’re older, you have more experience, more self-confidence. It’s very important to have prominent figures who lead the way,” concluded Hegerberg.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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