Stanislav Macek tells an amusing anecdote about his insistence on being the best in the world as Erling Haaland. “He knows what he wills,” he says to AS. “I’m going to tell you an anecdote. In Salzburg, he had a girlfriend from Norway who was going to visit him. A few days later, she went back because he told her he just needed to focus on football.”

Macek is the under-18 manager of Slovakia and was brought to Haaland in August when he worked with him alongside Austrian coach Jesse Marsch. It was only before Haaland finally introduced himself to the world and won a transfer in January to Dortmund where he is continuing to develop.

“I was so surprised after seeing him,” says Macek. “He’s been a child working as a mature adult. He’s pretty sure what his target is. He told me: ‘To get there, you don’t have to work quickly, just work hard.’ He’s doing that without a break. He’s barely playing since he arrived in Salzburg and he’s getting all the attention now.”

Like his childhood idols, Haaland is a physical prodigy, in whom he sees himself. “He has great respect for the job,” Macek says. “He told me when he was in Salzburg. He works too hard on his own to change. He told me he’s doing 1,000 sit-ups and 300 press-ups every day in his room.”

Spectacular Rise of Haaland

With its unprecedented move, pace, and height, Haaland’s rise is one of the most rapid in recent memory. The Slovak coach also compares the 19-year-old to some greats: “He’s a modern Ibrahimovic. I’d say he’s a lot smoother with his running, quicker. He’s got a great attitude about how to face games and his career.”


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