ERLING HAALAND admits he owes a huge thank you to Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for teaching him the art of goalscoring.
The Manchester City hero signed for Molde when he was just 16 years old and spent two years working under the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’.
Haaland’s dad Alfie had played alongside Solskjaer in the Norway national team and knew he was just what his boy needed at that time.
Now 22, the Etihad striker says Solskjaer was particularly influential in telling him how to head a ball – and Premier League defenders have been finding that out to their cost this season.
Haaland told GQ: “The first thing Solskjaer said to me was ‘you have no idea how to head a ball’. We have to work on that.
“This is what we did for two years, the whole period in Molde. And it was a good thing because now I’m scoring goals with my head. – thanks to them.”
Solskjaer was desperate to sign Haaland as United boss when he was leaving Red Bull Salzburg three years ago – but he opted to join Borussia Dortmund instead.
His countryman was not the only forward to have influenced Haaland – he named ex-United favourites Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie as players he has watched closely.
But having watched City’s rise from afar there are also a handful of their former players he has picked up pointers from.
He said: “From Zlatan to Van Persie, to Jamie Vardy, to Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi. Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli.
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“I think in the end, it’s a lot about being aware in your mind.
“I still try to do exactly the same things I did when I was 13 in my hometown, I still do exactly the same runs. Show clips of me at 13 and you will see exactly the same thing.
“I try to be a bit more smart, a bit more sharp, ahead of the people I play against. I try to be a bit more turned on in my head.
“Because If I do that if I get one second then I might be able to finish and he cannot block, for example.
“They think I go here, and I go there and I score. Things like this – it’s something I’m always thinking of.”
Haaland has scored 27 goals already for City this season – although he has failed to find the net in his last three appearances, a major drought by his sky high standards.
Yet the £51.4million ace will not be beating himself up about it.
He said: “I like to be under pressure, I like to be challenged. I think you are born with it, a lot in your head. To be focussed to be ready, to be relaxed in your head.
“I think that’s one of the most important things as a footballer.
“I’m not sitting on social media reading about myself. You cannot control what people say, think and write about you. So there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t care.”