Martin Odegaard has officially joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid, as the club announced on Wednesday afternoon.
But did you know that the 22-year-old attacking midfielder made his international debut against the UAE in 2014?
While most 15 year olds were watching their favourite footballers on TV, Stavanger was living the dream in full colour. Son of footballer Hans Erik, Odegaard was only 15 years and 253 days old when he became the youngest ever player to represent Norway on a senior international level, in a friendly between Norway and the UAE that took place in Stavanger.
It was Odegaard’s first time being called up to represent his country.
“This is a dream come true. This is something I have dreamt about since I was a little boy,” he said at the time. “I am shocked.”
Odegaard was named as one of coach Per-Mathias Hogmo’s 19-man squad for that particular match. The manager clearly had a glimpse into the future, because he was sure of young Odegaard’s talent before the boy had even made a name for himself.
“[He] would be one of this year’s rising stars,” said Hogmo. “I am looking forward [to] seeing him in action.”
The game ended in a 0-0 draw, but it mattered not to Odegaard’s bright road ahead. Odegaard had already scored three goals in 14 appearances at Stormsgodset Toppfotball, his club at the time.
He was already garnering attention from some of the biggest clubs in the world. Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris St Germain and Ajax Amsterdam all made trips to watch him play.
But it was Real Madrid who snatched the teen up first. They signed him in 2015, just a year after his professional debut.
Though he was registered for their reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla, he trained primarily with the first team, and became the youngest player to ever represent Real Madrid.
It seems now that Odegaard might have been destined to join Arsenal all along. In a new interview announcement, the Norwegian admits he was at the club when he was only 15 and "had a good feeling" despite not joining at the time.
“I was here. I visited the club and trained a little bit,” said Odegaard. "Every time I heard about the club, I had a good feeling. And now I'm here. So I think it's maybe meant to be."