In 2014, Martin Odegaard was the hottest prodigy in European football, with elite clubs all courting his signature to prise him away from Stromsgodset in his home country.
The Norwegian became the youngest player to feature in a European Qualifier when he played against Bulgaria in October 2014 aged 15 years and 300 days, and clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern Munich were all trying to convince him to sign professional terms at their club.
Spain-based football journalist Graham Hunter explains the hype around Odegaard at the time to FourFourTwo, highlighting how his talent stood out against all others.
“He’d been on a pedestal around Europe,” Hunter tells FFT. “There were two standout footballers at youth tournaments: Christian Pulisic and Martin Odegaard.
"Both of them had prominent fathers who were involved in their representation. It was clear that these were two crown princes.”
But these youth football festivals were secondary to the Odegaards’ own European tour, as the gods of club football pitched their projects to the family. In a parallel universe, he might have signed for Liverpool.
“He actually grew up as a huge Liverpool fan,” Hunter says. "Liverpool pushed the boat out to try to get him. They got Steven Gerrard to show him around the Melwood training complex, as it was at the time.
"They put a big effort into convincing him that this was the right environment, playing on how long he’d been a supporter.”
Unfortunately for them, Odegaard opted against moving to Anfield, instead signing for Real Madrid in January 2015. While his career seemingly stagnated for a period, it has burst back into life in England with Arsenal, where he is targeting the Premier League title as captain of the side.
Snubbing his boyhood side certainly can't have been easy for Odegaard at the time, but he did make it clear that he would decide on the right club with his head rather than what his heart desired.
"Liverpool have always been my dream club," Odegaard said in 2014. "But I will not let this affect my decision when I choose a new club."
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Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.