Martin Odegaard: The lowdown on Europe's next wonderkid
Martin Odegaard only turned 16 last month but has been coveted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Likened to Lionel Messi and a left-footed attacker like the Barcelona superstar, the 5ft 9.5in Norwegian was wooed by the likes of Manchester United Bayern Munich and Ajax in recent weeks.
Instead he opted to join Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at Real Madrid.
Here are 10 things you may not know about the talented teenager:
1. A sensation from the start
Odegaard was just 15 years and 117 days when Stromsgodset manager Ronny Deila, now boss of Scottish champions Celtic, gave him his league debut against Aaelsund in April. Odegaard almost marked his debut with a goal, beating a handful of defenders before passing to team-mate Thomas Sorum to score. Sorum joked afterwards: "He loses three or four guys and I get to score. That's a good deal!"
2. The first goal
Odegaard eventually scored his first senior goal a month after his debut, on 16 May. It was a cultured finish from just outside the penalty area against Sarpsborg, who were at the time coached by former Sheffield United striker Brian Deane.
3. Fifa 15 mad Liverpool fan
Born in the Norwegian city of Drammen, Odegaard is a massive Liverpool fan. The Reds are his preferred team whenever he plays Fifa 15 and when he recently took on Norway team-mate Mats Moller Daehli for the cameras, he beat his room-mate 5-2.
4. Labelled the next Lionel Messi
Current Stromsgodset manager and former team-mate David Nielsen has called Odegaard a "superhero", while Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said he was "a kid with talent and personality". Lots, like Deane, have compared him to Lionel Messi. "He's got this unerring ability when a challenge is coming in to recognise it and be gone before it arrives," the former Sheffield United striker told BBC Sport.
5. A hot property in high demand
More than 30 clubs from around Europe have made enquiries about Odegaard, including Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ajax and Liverpool. There have been as many as 30 scouts watching him in action for Stromsgodset. Liverpool were one of the many clubs to invite Odegaard to train with them. While at Melwood, he nutmegged Wales midfielder Joe Allen.
|Who is Martin Odegaard?|
|Born on 17 December, 1998 in Drammen, Norway||He is the son of Hans Erik Odegaard, who made more than 200 league appearances for Stromsgodset|
|Has been invited to train with Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester United||Scored his first senior goal in a 4-1 win against Sarpsborg in May|
6. Dedicated dad or pushy parent?
Odegaard's father has been a huge influence on his son's career. He estimates that Martin has trained for around 20 hours a week since the age of seven and recalls the moment he knew his son would be "quite good" at football. "I was still playing and Martin must have been no more than eight," he told CNN. "I was out on the pitch running some intervals. When I was finished, I wanted to go home, but we couldn't before he had done 50 more shots."
7. Was a move to Munich likely?
Bayern Munich have been one of the most persistent clubs chasing Odegaard, first registering contact with him when he was 14. Speaking about Bayern's interest, club chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "Obviously a beautiful bride and many grooms are waiting on the doorstep. Maybe we are the best-looking groom."
8. What about Madrid?
Clubs will do their utmost to sign a player from under the noses of their rivals. Big wages, a nice house, the promise of first-team football and so on. According to some reports, Real Madrid were prepared to offer Odegaard's dad a coaching role with their youth teams in a bid to lure his son to the Bernabeu.
9. Making Norwegian history
Odegaard became the youngest player to represent Norway at senior level when he started against the United Arab Emirates last August aged 15 years and 253 days. The previous record had stood since 1910, when Tormod Kjellsen made his debut aged 15 years and 351 days. National team coach Per-Mathias Hogmo had admitted he feared an early international baptism could damage Odegaard but eventually called him up for the match against the UAE. It ended goalless, but Odegaard went close to winning it.
10. International record-breaker
Aged just 15 years and 300 days, Odegaard broke a European record that had stood for 31 years by becoming the youngest player to play in a European Championship qualifier, He came on as a second-half substitute against Bulgaria in Oslo in October last year, helping Norway to a 2-1 win. The previous youngest player to feature in a Euro qualifier was Sigurdur Jónsson. He was 16 years and 251 days when he represented Iceland in a game against Malta in June 1983.