Erling Haaland has hailed the “extreme quality” at Borussia Dortmund, saying that the prospect of being set up by the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard excited him ahead of his arrival at the club.
Speaking to former Eintracht Frankfurt striker and fellow Norwegian Jan Age Fjortoft for Norwegian broadcaster Viasport after hitting a debut hat-trick against Augsburg, the 19-year-old gave his thoughts in his incredible start to life at Dortmund.
Click on the video above for the interview in Norwegian, with the full English transcript outlined below:
Jan Age Fjortoft: I don’t know what sort of intro I should have, we're all just so happy on your behalf. I don’t know where to start. Nevertheless, you're standing here, and you need to tell us... You’ve played Bundesliga football and after 183 seconds you scored your first goal. I think I’ll start with a simple question. How do you feel right now?
Erling Haaland: "If I’m honest, not an awful lot right now. I don’t think I’ve processed what has happened, so I’m actually rather calm at the moment."
Fjortoft: It seems like you are calmer than the people around you. After you scored your third goal for Dortmund the press officer came running around and started to talk about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored three goals in his number 17 shirt back in 2017.
Haaland: "That’s quite insane. When my dad and I decided upon this club, we were looking at all the players who could play me through [on goal]. And you can see that today, there’s an extreme amount of quality within this side. After only a couple of minutes on the pitch I got a perfect pass from Jadon. And then there's guys like Hazard and Reus, who are extremely good players."
Watch: Haaland's stunning debut hat-trick
Fjortoft: The second goal might be rather telling when it comes to the team you have chosen. You're through on goal in a two-on-one situation, and Hazard decides to elegantly square the ball to you...
Haaland: "That’s true. It’s nice, that's the way it's supposed to be. It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve arrived and it's special to get to a new club, but it’s insane how much I feel like a part of the team already. The atmosphere within the squad is great."
Fjortoft: You sat on the bus today driving towards this stadium. I don’t believe that you're the world’s biggest dreamer, but nevertheless, you must have been thinking through what was going to happen. You knew you were starting the match on the bench. What sort of scenarios went through your head? Did you imagine that this would happen?
Haaland: "I was imaging scoring one goal, which turned into two goals when they took a two-goal lead. I was thinking about scoring before the match and that's what happened."
Fjortoft: It seemed like a perfect time to bring you on when the score was at 2-1, but after they called on you to get ready, the other team took a 3-1 lead. What went through your mind at that point?
Haaland: "Well, at that point I just thought that I needed to score a hat-trick, and that things would work out [if I did], and that’s the way it turned out."
Fjortoft: How do you manage to absorb all of this? I know that you're a very calm guy, but I can see that things are coming to boil sometimes. Do you think that you can absorb all of this after a little while? You're now playing football in Germany, one of the biggest football nations on earth…
Haaland: "Yes, that’s true. It might not be the biggest club in Germany, but, it’s really great. I’ve got a great life at the moment."
Fjortoft: You do have a great life. You had multiple options in terms of the clubs to join. Now that you have been here for a few weeks, what have you liked the most about this club? When you spoke to your dad after visiting a number of clubs, you said: 'You know what, that’s where I want to go.'”
Haaland: "The thing I like the most is the fact that people are very much down to earth here and how well I was received. I could be myself right from the off. That yields results straight away. It was amazing how well I was received by the staff and the players."
Fjortoft: Now that you're standing here with the match ball... You have to show us that match ball, I get so happy because you are holding it in your hands...
Haaland: "You can have the ball."
Fjortoft: You should keep it. Now that you're standing here with the match ball, thinking about the fact that Lucien Favre told you that you were starting on the bench, before the two home matches against Cologne and Union Berlin. So obviously there was a plan in place. Your debut should have come at a home match. Do you feel like you’ve ruined Favre’s entire plan?
Haaland: "No, I hope not!. But, you never know. There's been a good plan in place so far, so we should continue following that plan."
Fjortoft: The team you are playing for now, featuring Sancho, Hazard and all those people around you. What's your favorite position? Do you want to play on your own up front? Or do you want those guys running around you? Given your position, do you want to be on your own with these people around, or do you want a strike partner?
Haaland: "It doesn’t really matter to me, if I’m completely honest. Everyone here is really talented. It worked out well today and it's the coach who decides how we should play. It’s up to us to deliver on the pitch. And you can see that the connection to the other players is already in place. That’s the way it is with such talented players who play at such a high level."
Fjortoft: Many German journalists have asked me what type of guy you are. I answer their question by telling them that your biggest attribute is your attitude. You are from Jæren, and come from a good family who has raised you well, and I think that's important to say. We're in a country where stars are born overnight. How are you going to keep grounded?
Haaland: "I just need to stay true to myself. I’m just a guy from Bryne, and I’m still just that and that hasn’t changed. That’s the way it is, I just need to be me."
Fjortoft: You’ve talked about the players and Favre. What has he told you in terms of the tactical side of things? I don’t know how well you know him, but he's completely football mad. He watches videos and all that all the time. What's your role? How does he want you to play for this team?
Haaland: "He wants me to become a bigger and bigger part of the team, slowly but surely. I feel like I’ve done that already. I just need to be myself. They’ve bought me for a reason, and I know that. I just need to be myself and play my game and things will turn out well in the end."
Fjortoft: Tell us, who of your closest ones where in the stands today? Did you make eye contact?
Haaland: "No, I didn’t see my dad in the stands. It’s going to be weird to see him tonight."
Fjortoft: How close have you been through this process? Has you taking the next step brought the family close together? First you moved from Jæren to Molde, then you moved from Molde to Salzburg and now you're probably making the biggest step, joining Dortmund. Now you're playing football in front of 81,000 at Signal Iduna Park.
Haaland: "We’ve always had a close bond, especially in terms of football. And that’s still the way it is, but that goes for the entire family really. Yes, we do have a close relationship and I’m grateful about that."
Fjortoft: Have you found a place to live in Dortmund? And how quickly are things going to evolve, allowing you to attend to everything you need to take care off, moving included? How has that been, the steps you have taken in regards of those things?
Haaland: "It’s great to have your dad there. He has taken care of all those things."
Fjortoft: Now we are going to take one last look at the match ball.
Haaland: "You can hold it."
Fjortoft: Can I hold it? This is a very lovely match ball. You’ve scored a hat-trick in the Champions League. Didn’t you score a hat-trick for Molde early on as well? I think you scored four in one match.
Haaland: "Yes, against Brann."
Fjortoft: All you need to do is to keep going.
Haaland: "Yeah, keep going."
Fjortoft: Congratulations on your accomplishments today, I think I can say that on behalf of all Norwegians.