Erling Haaland is only 6 away from Norway’s goalscoring record, so it is inevitable that he will soon become his country’s best striker.
On the one hand, that will happen incredibly quickly – Haaland only scored his first goals for Norway in 2020.
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Of the 213 FIFA-affiliated countries, Norway has the longest individual goal scoring record in the world. In the year It was produced by Jorgen Juve, a remarkable man who ended his international career in 1937 and later became a famous sports journalist in his home country.
In 45 matches for Norway, Juve scored a relatively modest 33 goals, including 5 hat-tricks, despite playing as a centre-forward in less than half of those games. In the 1936 Olympics, he was placed on the defensive. This explains why the last international goal came three years before the end in June 1934. So it would be 90 years since Haaland scored another 6 goals and Juve reached 33 goals.
There is technically a longer record in Scandinavia as well.
Between 1910 and 1925, Paul “Tist” Nilsson scored 52 goals in 38 games for Denmark, although the record was broken by John Dahl Thomassen – now manager of Blackburn Rovers in the English Championship – in 2010. Instead of trying to make the record his own, the year’s South African World Cup. Nielsen’s name remains in the record books, although he now only holds the Danish record jointly.
This graph shows how outlier these records are.
The goal-scoring records of six nations over 50 years are Libya, Sudan and Guinea. Therefore, if we include only the countries that have been to the World Cup, only Denmark, Norway and Hungary have a record of more than half a century.
Hungary’s record is perhaps the most impressive: Ferenc Puskas scored 84 goals in 85 games and his international career ended prematurely at the age of 29 due to the Hungarian Revolution. He later spent half a decade representing Spain in the 1962 World Cup.
The most impressive thing about the graph is how many goalscoring records have been set recently.
The 64 record goalscorers in 211 countries will be seen in 2023; In terms of tenure, the average goalscoring mark has only stood for seven years, including Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Keane and the like. Paraguay Rock Santa Cruz. It is clear that increasing longevity is the main reason due to the advanced fitness standards of the modern game, the number of relatively new countries on the FIFA list.
Perhaps the most surprising international goalscoring record is that of Italy.
Giga Riva’s mark of 35 goals since the 1974 World Cup is 35. Not only has it not been matched or eclipsed, but no one has particularly come close to it – Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero both reached 27 and that’s that. As anyone came.
For context, four Englishmen have reached 35 goals in that period – Gary Lineker, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane. Four Spaniards – Raul Gonzalez, Fernando Torres, David Villa and David Silva, Alvaro Morata (at 34) should get there soon.
Plus, no current Italian looks to challenge him – Ciro Immobile (with 17) is less than half his height, turns 34 in February, and has been out of recent squads. No one in Luciano Spalletti’s current squad has scored more than eight international goals.
Italy’s shortcoming is not in the absence of clearly talented strikers – the likes of Christian Vieri, Pipo Inzaghi and Luca Toni have all scored plenty at club level. Sometimes it’s the other way around, with different strikers vying for a starting spot, meaning none of them manage to dominate the national team for a decade. That said, ten years ago, there was a dearth of Italian strikers to choose from. Antonio Conte used Eder and Graziano Pele up front at the 2016 European Championship.
There is also a strategic consideration. Not only are Italy traditionally the most defensive of the major European nations, but their attacking play is generally based on the use of a second striker. Baggio, Del Piero and Francesco Totti have been the golden boy on different – overlapping – levels, with the Italy No.9 often chosen primarily to bring out the best in the Italy No.10.
What about Norway? Similarly, they were traditionally focused on defense, favoring counter-attacks and long balls. In the year
But perhaps the most important thing about Norway is that, historically, they are generally not very competitive.
They have only qualified for four major tournaments in 1938, 1994, 1998 and 2000 – and in those games they won a combined three matches. They are similar to Italy, sometimes boasting a variety of high-class strikers – John Carew, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Torre Andre Flo, Stephen Iverson – and others are completely lacking. Good centre-forwards.
Norway look to have the most prolific striker in Europe at the moment and it’s not unreasonable to wonder where Haaland might end up in the international goalscoring charts, never mind in relation to his relatives.
Haaland is currently averaging one goal for his country, which will inevitably prove difficult for the 23-year-old to continue in his career. But it’s worth noting how impressive it is even at this early stage. Juve, Riva, Puskas and Nielsen, as well as Japan’s Kunishige Kamamoto, hold the international goalscoring records for their country, scoring 0.75 goals per game or more, excluding countries that failed to qualify for the World Cup again.
Even Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s all-time international goalscorer with 127 goals, boasts just 0.63 goals per game, which is lower than Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Kane and Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia). His first season as a winger rather than a central striker.
Considering how many caps Haaland has scored for Manchester City, it’s not too much of a stretch to link up with six goals against Juve this international break, especially as Norway’s first game is a friendly at home to the Faroe Islands today (Thursday), followed by a European Championship qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow on Sunday. in the past. That said, the Pharaohs’ defense is less than you might think – only twice in their last 22 home games have they scored more than three times in a game.
The big question is whether we will see Haaland in a major tournament.
Despite his presence and Arsenal boss Martin Odegaard’s presence, Norway failed to qualify directly from the Euro 2024 qualifiers, with Spain and Scotland already two places behind.
They are at least likely to qualify for the playoffs, and will have two must-win games in March to secure their first major tournament berth since 2000 – the summer in which Haaland was born. But there has been little in recent performances to suggest that Norway will make it to the knockout stages.
Juve’s individual record will soon be surpassed, but the team’s Olympic bronze medal may be the country’s greatest achievement for a long time.
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(Top photo: Sebastian Widmann – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)