Erling Haaland discusses taking inspiration from Jamie Vardy, a potential reunion of his rap group Flow Kingz and his plans to have a farm once he retires from football in an exclusive interview with Sky.
Taking inspiration from Vardy, Van Persie
Who do you think you are?
Before I came to Dortmund, I saw myself as an easy guy from Bryne. I still do but in a little bit of a different way. Things have changed since my debut in Champions League. I’m still a really quiet guy from Bryne, maybe a little bit crazy, with a few limits.
I try to be myself as much as I can, when there is a camera you have to be a little careful, that is just how it is. On the pitch, I am myself all the time. Sometimes I laugh about myself.
Which players do you learn from?
I’ve been watching a lot of players, let’s take for example the run in behind the centre-back when the No 10 has the ball. You have maybe the best in the world at that, Jamie Vardy. I’ve been looking a lot at him on exactly this. I have always been watching a lot of football and I still do. When we play Saturday, I go home on Sunday and watch football all day.
Van Persie I watched a lot, he was also left-footed. I watched him scoring a lot of goals and as a left-footer as well it was natural for me to watch him a lot. I’ve been watching a lot of players, especially strikers.
How does it feel to be compared with Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
He is a cool guy, and I think he is also himself 100 per cent on the pitch. He does everything he can to win.
Revisiting the rap career
You are known in Norway for being in a rap band. What was it called?
Yeah it was called Flow Kingz. I think it was in 2015 or 2016.
The two other band members are both top footballers in Norway. What was the idea for the rap band?
We were with the national team U16 or U17, and we were good friends, so obviously we were training but then for the rest of the day we didn’t have anything to do. We tried to do a lot of random stuff and then we came on this and thought, ‘Maybe we should make a music video, why not?’ because Erik Tobias Sandberg was really good at rhymes. Erik Botheim says he is good at rapping, so he was the rapping guy. And then I was the one who had the big verse. In the end it is a really nice song and it has a lot of views.
Will there be a reunion?
I don’t know, maybe. Maybe we should do one time. We also talked a lot about wanting to be on the hit list in Norway and perform it, so we will see.
What inspires you on the pitch?
First of all, to win. I hate to lose. The worst thing is to lose. What inspires me is to win, to play good football, to score nice goals and for me as a striker it is up to me to score the goals. That is what really inspires me.
Did you always have a dream of becoming a footballer? Did your dad’s career have an impact on that?
I had a dream that I wanted to be better than my dad. Also, to live from football and live the football life. It is good to live that dream.
For me, I have to beat him in all statistics, then I will say I am better than him. I’m quite calm on this right now.
From footballer to farmer
What is a perfect day away from football?
Waking up without an alarm. If it is good weather, I eat a good breakfast and then just lay in the sun all day, relaxing and not doing a lot. Take life as it comes to you. Be with good people around me, having good conversations.
When it is possible I am trying to relax my head, one example is being on a farm, driving a tractor or feeding the cows.
You grew up in Bryne, a farmers’ town. Is that a good day for you?
This is also nice. I like to do a lot of things to turn off the football head, so you don’t get burned out. So you can relax completely in your mind. Because it is not easy being a footballer, it is a lot of pressure and a lot of thinking and the mindset has to be right. It is a lot of things. When you can relax, you have to relax. When it is possible I am trying to relax my head, one example is being on a farm, driving a tractor or feeding the cows or whatever. I don’t own cows or pigs, but I will for sure in the future. Yeah, I think I will have a small farm, after I retire. I don’t know where, but I am quite sure I will have some animals. We are thinking about getting a couple of goats, we will see.
Who do you compare yourself with?
I don’t want to compare myself to anyone. I think I am a bit special, with my physical abilities. My mother was really quick, my grandmother was really quick, my father was really quick, but not so quick.
How much do you speak with Mino Raiola?
I haven’t spoken a lot with him over the last few months. I think my dad has been speaking a lot with him. I have been focusing on football. I have not really spoken a lot with Mino in the last months.
Bellingham ‘banter’ and Van Dijk battles
What is it like to play with Jude Bellingham?
Jude is a really good person, he is a phenomenal talent. I play good with him, as I did with Jadon (Sancho) last year. I think we have the same banter together, so we get on really well together, and we have a really good connection on the pitch.
Who is the toughest defender you have played against?
Virgil van Dijk I said before. He was really good. How tall he is, how strong he is, how fast he is, but also the timing. I don’t think I won one duel against him. Sergio Ramos was really smart and good so either one of them.
Toughest team you’ve come up against?
I’ve never won against Bayern Munich, so I would have to say Bayern.
Who will win the Champions League?
I think either Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid will win the Champions League.