Erling Haaland was born in Leeds in 2000 while his father was playing for Leeds United. His father, Alf-Inge Haaland, had moved to England seven years prior after progressing through the ranks at local club Bryne.
Unfortunately, just three years after Erling’s birth, Alf-Inge was forced to retire from football at the age of 30 due to injury problems. He famously suffered a severe tackle from Roy Keane that injured his right knee, although he already had existing issues with his left knee unrelated to the incident. With his professional career cut short, Alf-Inge made the decision to return to Norway with his family.
While Haaland Sr left the world of football to pursue a career in property development, he encouraged his son to continue playing the sport he loved. Following in his father’s footsteps, Erling joined Bryne’s youth academy.
Coach Alf Ingve Berntsen was immediately impressed by the young recruit’s dedication and talent. Unlike his father, who played in defense or midfield for clubs like Nottingham Forest, Leeds, and Manchester City, Erling excelled as an attacking player.
“I first saw Erling when he was five years old, joining indoor training with a group one year older,” Berntsen shared with Goal. “His first two touches resulted in goals. He was exceptional right from the start, despite not having played for the club before.
“He initially played with his own age group, but due to his superior skills, we quickly moved him up to the Under-6 team.
“In 2005, the club constructed a grass-covered indoor soccer pitch that was open on weekends. Erling and around 20 others would gather there and play for hours.”