Star set to snub World Cup

Nor­we­gians hop­ing Bal­lon d’Or win­ner will re­turn to na­tional team

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS - AFP

Ada Hegerberg’s star sta­tus on the world stage was con­firmed as she won the in­au­gu­ral women’s Bal­lon d’Or on Mon­day, and yet back home in Nor­way she also stands out for her on­go­ing ab­sence from the na­tional team ahead of the World Cup.

The 23-year-old aptly wore a gold dress as she picked up the in­au­gu­ral prize at the cer­e­mony in Paris, join­ing men’s win­ner Luka Mo­dric and best young men’s player Kylian Mbappe on stage with her tro­phy.

She was voted for by a panel of jour­nal­ists from around the world on the strength of her pro­lific form for French gi­ants Lyon, with whom she has won three con­sec­u­tive Cham­pi­ons League ti­tles.

Back in Nor­way, mean­while, there have been re­newed calls for her to end her ex­ile from the na­tional team.

Hegerberg slammed the door shut on her in­ter­na­tional ca­reer in the wake of Nor­way’s des­per­ate show­ing at last year’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship in the Nether­lands, when they fin­ished bot­tom of their group and failed to score a sin­gle goal.

With­out her, though, Nor­way fared bet­ter in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing, top­ping their group ahead of the Dutch, and they will go to next year’s fi­nals in France. Of­fi­cially, how­ever, the door is open for Hegerberg to re­turn.

“Hope­fully, Ada maybe changes her mind and maybe she can be a part of the na­tional team in the fu­ture,” Nor­way coach Martin Sjo­gren told AFP.

“As a na­tional team coach, you al­ways want the best play­ers but you can­not fo­cus on the ones who don’t want to be a part of it.”

The Nor­we­gian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion duly con­grat­u­lated Hegerberg for her award on Twit­ter, but Sjo­gren says he has no in­ten­tion of con­tact­ing her.

“Play­ing for Nor­way, that de­ci­sion must come from Ada her­self, I think,” Sjo­gren said.

It is nev­er­the­less hard to imag­ine the World Cup go­ing ahead in six months with­out the first-ever Bal­lon d’Or win­ner, all the more so as the fi­nal will be played in Lyon. Satur­day’s draw for the com­pe­ti­tion will now be clouded by the threat of Hegerberg not tak­ing part.

“At the mo­ment I would say no,” Sjo­gren said when asked if he thought Hegerberg would re­turn.

“But you never know what will hap­pen. It’s still half a year un­til we get to the cham­pi­onship.”

The player her­self – whose el­der sis­ter An­drine plays for Paris Sain­tGer­main – does not seem likely to change her mind any time soon.

“There would need to be a good few changes for me to con­sider re­turn­ing,” she told Nor­we­gian broad­caster NRK on Mon­day.

“It is not a mat­ter of whether I should change my mind. The ques­tion is more what the FA and the na­tional team have to do to im­prove, and there is a long way to go in that re­gard.”

Hegerberg’s re­la­tion­ship with her now ex-team­mates and the Nor­we­gian soc­cer au­thor­i­ties is per­haps summed up by the fact that she was not even in­cluded in a team of the year se­lected by the na­tional play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion last week­end.

Prima donna?

Those who don’t like Hegerberg la­bel her a “prima donna,” com­par­ing her to for­mer Swe­den men’s star Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic.

In Septem­ber, NRK claimed her for­mer na­tional team­mates were de­mand­ing an apol­ogy from Hegerberg for com­ments made af­ter Euro 2017.

“I al­ways feel that I have be­come a worse player when I come back from na­tional team get-to­geth­ers and that shouldn’t be the case,” she told news­pa­per Aften­posten.

Nor­we­gian me­dia also claimed Hegerberg had bro­ken off all links with her for­mer team­mates on so­cial me­dia af­ter they qual­i­fied for the World Cup.

“The prima donna im­age that some have given her is a load of non­sense,” protested her mother, Gerd Stolsmo, in a TV in­ter­view on Mon­day.

Nev­er­the­less, it is far from cer­tain her mother’s com­ments will lead to a thaw in the frosty re­la­tions be­tween Hegerberg and the Nor­we­gian team.

Lyon’s Nor­we­gian for­ward Ada Hegerberg con­trols the ball dur­ing their French women’s D1 soc­cer match against Paris Saint-Ger­main in Paris on Novem­ber 18.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.