Erling Haaland discusses 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.
Inspired by Vardy, Van Persie
Who do you think you are?
Before coming to Dortmund, I saw myself as an easy guy from Bryne. I still do, but in a slightly different way. Things have changed since my debut in the Champions League. I’m still a very calm Bryne guy, maybe a little crazy, with some limitations.
I try to be myself as much as possible, when there is a camera you have to be a little careful, that’s how it is. On the field, I am myself all the time. Sometimes I laugh at myself.
Which players do you learn from?
I’ve watched a lot of players, take for example running behind the centre-back when the No.10 has the ball. You might have the best in the world at this, Jamie Vardy. I’ve watched a lot about it. I’ve always watched a lot of football and still do. When we play on Saturday, I go home on Sunday and watch football all day.
Van Persie, whom I watched a lot, he was also left-handed. I saw him score a lot of goals and as a lefty too it was natural for me to watch him a lot. I watched a lot of players, especially forwards.
How does it feel to be compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
He’s a cool guy, and I think he’s 100% himself on the pitch as well. He does everything to win.
Revisiting the career of rap
You are known in Norway for being part of a rap group. What was his name ?
Yeah it was called Flow Kingz. I think it was in 2015 or 2016.
The other two band members are both top footballers in Norway. What was the idea of the rap group?
We were with the U16 or U17 national team, and we were good friends, so obviously we were training but then for the rest of the day we had nothing to do. We tried to do a lot of random stuff and then we stumbled upon it and thought, “Maybe we should do a music video, why not? because Erik Tobias Sandberg was really good at rhyming. Erik Botheim says he’s good at rapping, so he was the rapper. And then I got the big verse. In the end it’s a very beautiful song and it has a lot of views.
Will there be a reunion?
I do not know, maybe. Maybe we should do it once. We also talked a lot about wanting to be on the hit list in Norway and playing it, so we’ll see.
What inspires you on the pitch?
First, to win. I hate losing. The worst is to lose. What inspires me is to win, to play good football, to score good goals and for me, as a striker, it’s up to me to score the goals. That’s what really inspires me.
Have you always dreamed of becoming a footballer? Did your father’s career have an impact on that?
I dreamed that I wanted to be better than my father. Also, live football and live the life of football. It’s good to live this dream.
For me, I have to beat him in all stats, so I’ll say I’m better than him. I’m pretty calm about it for now.
From footballer to farmer
What’s a perfect day away from football?
Waking up without an alarm. If the weather is good, I eat a good breakfast and lie in the sun all day, relaxing and not doing much. Take life as it comes to you. Being with good people around me, having good conversations.
Whenever possible, I try to relax my head, for example being on a farm, driving a tractor or feeding the cows.
You grew up in Bryne, a town of farmers. Is it a good day for you?
It’s also nice. I like to do a lot of things to turn off the footballer’s head, so as not to exhaust you. So you can completely relax in your mind. Because it’s not easy being a footballer, it’s a lot of pressure and a lot of thinking and the mindset has to be right. It’s a lot of things. When you can relax, you should relax. Whenever possible, I try to relax my head, like being on a farm, driving a tractor or feeding the cows or whatever. I don’t own any cows or pigs, but I certainly will in the future. Yes, I think I will have a small farm after I retire. I don’t know where, but I’m sure I’ll have animals. We’re thinking of taking a few goats, we’ll see.
Who do you compare yourself to?
I don’t want to compare myself to anyone. I think I’m a bit special, with my physical abilities. My mother was very fast, my grandmother was very fast, my father was very fast, but not so fast.
How much do you talk with Mino Raiola?
I haven’t spoken much with him in the past few months. I think my dad talked a lot with him. I focused on football. I haven’t really spoken much with Mino for the past few months.
Bellingham’s “gossip” and Van Dijk’s battles
How is it to play with Jude Bellingham?
Jude is a very good person, he has a phenomenal talent. I play well with him, like I did with Jadon (Sancho) last year. I think we have the same banter together, so we get along very well together and we have a very good connection on the pitch.
Who is the toughest defender you have played against?
Virgil van Dijk, I have already said it. He was really good. What is its size, strength, speed, but also the timing. I don’t think I won a single duel against him. Sergio Ramos was really smart and good, so one or the other.
The toughest team you’ve met?
I never won against Bayern Munich, so I would say Bayern.
Who will win the Champions League?
I think Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid will win the Champions League.