Ada Hagerberg has apologized in advance for the upcoming clich. He knows it sounds too hard, just what he is expected to say, with everything he has done. Everyone says it, after all.
Although, for the past five months or more, not being able to find yourself in a treatment room or confined to the gym as part of recovering from a serious knee injury, the only way to describe how it felt was to be out playing football. Field once more. There is no other way to put it: he feels, he says again like a child.
In part, it’s the slightest electric thrill, the vibe of pure, uninterrupted joy that comes from feeling the grass under his feet, surrounded by peers, being able to do what he’s always done. He was deprived of it for about two years; He is determined to “enjoy” his recovery.
But that’s not all. The thrill is related to the rediscovery of possibilities. At the age of 26, Hagerberg again felt that he was at the beginning of something, happily unaware of the limitations or the horizon or destination.
“I don’t know what the end will be,” he said. “I can be a completely different player from what I was. And I’m looking at it in a positive way. “It’s the joy of youth: you still don’t know what to expect.
In an ideal world, of course, Hagerberg would not have had that opportunity. It goes without saying that he doesn’t want to lose the good part of two seasons of his career due to injury and of course he doesn’t have to lose the two seasons he did.
In January 2020, Hagerberg was more than just the best female footballer on the planet; She was the breakout star of the women’s game, which is set to become the dominant, animating power of the game over the next decade or so – at least in Europe. The previous year, she was untouchable.
In December 2018, Hagerberg was named the inaugural winner of the Women’s Ballon d’Or. Six months later, he scored a devastating hat-trick in the Champions League final, gifting his club Olympic Lyon a fourth consecutive European crown. By October 2019, he had secured another part of history by breaking the record for most goals scored in a competition.
And then, when a scan confirmed that the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee had ruptured during a training in January 2020, he faded out of sight. He was absent because the season had come to a halt after the epidemic. He was absent as Leon won his fifth consecutive Champions League title.
It just proved to be the beginning. In September 2020, he sustained a stress fracture in his left tibia, ending all hopes he had for a relatively quick return. Soon, Leon has confirmed that he will not play at all until the fall of 2021. In the end, Hagerberg will spend 20 months before playing again.
For most athletes, it will feel like a lifetime. In women’s football, it feels like eternity. The game is evolving in Europe at such a pace and to such an extent that it was almost unrecognizable when Hagerberg returned to the field in the Champions League match against the Swedish team Hacken in October.
Lyon was no longer the pre-famous superpower of Europe; That tag now belongs to Barcelona, the team that held its breath in the Champions League a few months ago. Paris Saint-Germain ousted Lyon as French champion for the first time since 2006, and even lost its reputation as the sport’s most glamorous destination: Sam Kerr, Tobin Heath and Parnell Harder all drew to England, rather than France, to television-produced products. By
Shortly afterwards, Hagerberg even lost his position as a standout player on the continent. Suddenly, the title went to Barcelona captain and Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putelas, with a raft of her vigilant teammates. Vivian Midema, Arsenal’s relentless forward, even seems to have removed Hagerberg as the game’s most clinical finisher.
There were some elements of that growth that he welcomed: the expansion of the Champions League group stage, a broadcasting deal with streaming service Dazn that gave Hagerberg “the players have been given the platform they deserve.” Others he did not, such as being forced to watch from the outside as the game’s totem and triads shifted, seemed to be leaving him behind.
Yet, though, he does not betray any sense of bitterness. This is the nature of football: it is, as he puts it, “fresh”, in a state of almost uninterrupted renewal. “Life goes on,” he said. “I am fully aware that I have been away for a long time. People have forgotten you. “
Patience, Hagerberg admits, is not something that comes naturally to him. He is, in his own confession, a “very organized” person, a person who can take a dim view of some minor difficulties, such as a last-minute change of plan. His recovery, though, taught him his virtues; She tried, as much as she could, she couldn’t sweat the little things. “Ask my agent,” he said. “She’s almost proud of me.”
This is a practical choice as much as a philosophical one. Injuries, and the subsequent difficult, frustrating recovery, have changed Hagerberg’s outlook on his career – hence the broader determination to “enjoy” it – but he says he describes boredom over trivial matters as a “waste of calories.” Anxiety is the only energy that can be used elsewhere. He has become more patient because he does not want to waste any time.
“I could say that five Champions Leagues and a Ballon d’Or were enough,” he said. But I want to make more records. I want to come back with 40 or 50 goals in a season. They’re crazy numbers, and it will take time, but I know I can. “
“It’s about self-esteem,” he added. “I want to go beyond my limits. That’s what I want to do as an athlete: explode all existing boundaries. “
His first goal, of course, was to get Lyon back to the top: to regain both his French and European championships. The club will face Italian champions Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals this week. “We’ve won it five times in a row,” Hagerberg said, with a brief, lonely annoying flash. “It simply came to our notice then. People may have forgotten. “
After that, his goal could include international fold back; She has not played for Norway since 2017, in protest of the country’s authorities’ disregard for women’s sports. National team coach Martin Sjogren said in February that a “close dialogue” with Hagerberg meant “playing” again for his country. He could still be back in time to feature in this summer’s European Championships.
Whether he will be like Adya Hagerberg, he still does not know, of course. He is still waiting, patient and impatient, to find out. Even though the expectation that he will be different does not fill him with fear. Perhaps his second version would be even better. After all, that’s why he feels like a child again: because his world, once again, is full of possibilities.