Sseated in their seats Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, the guests at the UEFA Gala had the feeling that they were witnessing for the first time a scene that will become commonplace in the future. With his peculiar giant gait, Erling Haaland went up on stage to receive the trophy that accredits him as UEFA Best Player 2022. The Norwegian begins to reap its fruits.
We are talking about individual awards, of course. Because in collective titles the harvest began months ago and is prolific. Haaland has won the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup and the European Super Cup. He has won the Golden Boot in Europe (53 goals), in the Champions League (12) and in the Premier (36). They have named him Player of the Year in the Premier and now in Europe. When it comes to the season of his debut at City and in English football, it is not a bad letter of introduction.
Therefore, it is not surprising that he was seen full of joy and without wanting to part with his first great individual trophy while he shared his impressions and his happiness with the journalists from the ESM (European Sports Media) who were part of the jury for these awards. “I am 22 years old and I am living a dream, my dream when I was a child. And I can only say that I am enjoying it a lot. This award motivates me to continue working to get more trophies and have another great season. Do my best to achieve it.”
In the vote, the Norwegian striker clearly prevailed over his two rivals to take the baton from Karim Benzema as the best footballer of the European season. Sum 352 votes for 227 of Messi and 225 from his teammate kevin debruynewho reached the final podium for the third time. Gundoganfourth, and Spanish Rodri, fifth, completed a quintet with overwhelming dominance of Manchester City. Haaland spoke of how his landing in the Universe has been: “Getting to a team like Guardiola’s City is not easy on the one hand, because they weren’t used to playing with a striker like me, but my job is to improve and adapt. It has been a challenge because City is not just another team, but it does not mean more pressure. I enjoy being here and this role.”
Finally, the Norwegian showed that his ambition is on par with his scoring voracity (53 goals in 52 games) and sent a message making it clear that he is very comfortable at City. “I am young and I still have a lot of things to improve. I know and I talk a lot with the technicians about it. But I am in the ideal team, with Pep and all his technical staff, to improve and continue developing my game.“. These are words that speak of a total integration with his club and his coach, in the face of rumors about his future. It is worth remembering what this newspaper announced in July of last year: when he signed with City, Haaland introduced a clause that is common in his contracts and that allows him to leave his club if he wishes in the summer of 2024 upon payment of 200 million, which becomes 175 in 2025.
On the other hand, in the section of coaches the forecasts were also fulfilled and Pep Guardiola won the UEFA Best Coach award. The Spanish technician, who could not go to Monaco because he was recovering from a herniated disc operation, clearly prevailed over Spalletti and Inzaghi. 602 votes compared to 252 for the Naples coach and 84 for the Inter player.