FOOTBALL

Haaland could make it at Madrid says former coach

Stanislav Macek is the Slovakian under-18 manager and spent a week with the Borussia Dortmund striker at the start of the season.

Haaland could make it at Madrid says former coach
PATRIK STOLLARZ AFP

Stanislav Macek tells an illuminating anecdote about Erling Haaland's his focus on being the best in the world. "He knows what he wants," he tells AS. "I'll tell you an anecdote. In Salzburg, he had a Norweigan girlfriend who was going to visit him. A few days later, she went back because he told her he had to concentrate on football only."

Macek is Slovakia's under-18 manager and he got to know Haaland in August when he was working with him along with Austrian coach Jesse Marsch. That was just before Haaland truly announced himself to the world and earned a move to Dortmund in January where he continues to improve.

Stanislav Macek (derecha) posa con Marsch, entrenador del Salzburgo (centro).

"After seeing him, I was so impressed," Macek says. "He was a kid working like a mature professional. He is very sure about what his objective is. He told me: 'to get there, you don't have to work fast but work hard.' He does that without a break. When he arrived at Salzburg, he was hardly playing and now he is a drawing all the attention."

Haaland is a physical prodigy just like his childhood heroes, who he sees himself in. "He has enormous respect for work," says Macek. "When he was at Salzburg, everyone told me. He works so much on his own to improve. He told me that in his house he does 1,000 sit-ups and 300 press-ups daily."

Haaland's rise has been spectacular

"In March, I saw him play with Norway's under-20s against Slovakia's under-21s. And I can say that I have not seen an individual performance like that from a player of that age," says Macek. "They won 0-2 and he scored once but his performance was extraordinary."

Haaland's rise with his incredible movement, speed and height is one of the quickest in recent memory. The Slovakian coach compares the 19-year-old with some greats too: "He is a modern Ibrahimovic. I would say he is much better in his movement, quicker. He has a great mentality in how to face games and his profession."

The Norweigan was linked with a move to Manchester United to team up with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he made the move to the Bundesliga where he continued knocking in goals with 12 in 11 games. Macek sees another big move on his horizon too.

"I think that he has made a big move. He is one of the best in Germany," he said. "If he keeps progressing like he is, for sure, we will see him at a bigger club again in no time such as Madrid. The best have always played at Madrid and Haaland is one of them. He is a footballer made for Madrid without a doubt..."