Ada Hegerberg named Europe’s best

Norway’s star striker is awarded UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe for 2015/16

Photo: Jostein Magnussen / VG Ada Hegerberg shown with coach Even Pellerud in 2015.

Photo: Jostein Magnussen / VG
Ada Hegerberg shown with coach Even Pellerud in 2015.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

Following an extraordinary season with the French club Olympique Lyonnais and the Norwegian national team, 21-year-old striker Ada Hegerberg has made a name for herself not just in Norway, or in France, but throughout all of Europe.

With 54 goals in 34 games, the Norwegian played an integral role in Lyon’s success this season, helping the club to take all three trophies in the French league, the French cup, and Champions League. She became the top scorer of the Champions League with 13 goals throughout the competition.

In January, Hegerberg rightfully earned Gullballen, the award for the year’s best Norwegian footballer, becoming the first woman to receive the prize since Hege Riise in 1995. But being the best in Norway wasn’t enough for the star striker; on August 25, the Norwegian also won the title of UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe for 2015/16 during the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

“The most important moment of my career so far has been the Champions League victory last season. We had the ambition to go for every trophy, and we did it. It was a great team effort, and standing here today with this trophy is a true honor. I’m really happy; it’s an amazing feeling,” said Hegerberg when she accepted the award on stage.

The UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe award was introduced in 2013, two years after the prize was first created for the top male footballers.

The European Sports Media Group selected a jury of 20 journalists committed to women’s soccer from the UEFA’s 55 member countries. The jury originally voted on a list of female footballers compiled by the coaches of the 12 top-ranked teams and the eight teams that participated in the Champions League quarterfinals last season. In the second round, they voted on a shortlist of ten athletes, and in the third and final round of voting, the list was reduced to three: Ada Hegerberg, her former teammate Amandine Henry, and her current teammate Dzsenifer Marozsán.

The French midfielder Henry played with Hegerberg at Lyon last season before moving to the Portland Thorns, and Marozsán, a German footballer of Hungarian descent, started with the French club this summer after several years with FFC Frankfurt.

The Norwegian was the clear winner, taking 13 out of 20 votes. Henry came in second with four votes and Marozsán in third with three. Cristiano Ronaldo, forward for Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team, took the award on the men’s side for the second time with Antoine Griezmann of France and Gareth Bale of Wales in second and third, respectively.

“I am humbled and proud to receive this award. A big thanks to my parents and my sister Andrine. The same for all my teammates in club and on the national team. It’s a great inspiration to continue what I love so much, playing soccer,” Hegerberg told football.no.

“I also hope that it is an inspiration to all soccer girls at home in Norway,” she added.

Previously the award has gone to Germans Nadine Angerer, Nadine Keßler, and Célia Šašić. Hegerberg was the first non-German footballer to win the prestigious award.

“This is a big, proud moment for Norway. I’m very glad that Ada is Norwegian and that she plays for Norway,” said Norway’s national team manager, Roger Finjord.

“She deserves this. She is a player who throughout her entire career has sought out competition and development. She is always on the hunt to be better—she has worked hard for this,” he added.

Even though she can now officially claim to be the best footballer in Europe, Hegerberg is committed to using the award as motivation to continue her development and become even better throughout the future years of her soccer career.

“This is only the beginning,” she said about the award. “I am eager to improve, and I’ll work with the details to get better every day and every season.”

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 23, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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