Guardiola: "I will make Odegaard the best player in the world"

Jan Age Fjørtoft may not have been his agent but he did directly advise the father of the Real Madrid star, and he tells the story of the decision as it panned out.

Guardiola: "I will make Odegaard the best player in the world"

It was back in 2015 when Pep Guardiola was in the Bayern Munich dugout and Martin Odegaard was an exciting young talent at the tender age of 15, one who had caught the eye of many of Europe’s elite clubs. The Catalan coach going through the now customary winter break with the German club in Qatar, which also happened to be where the Norwegian youth team was based.

Jan Age Fjørtoft, a former player with a distinguished international career for Norway, was on the Scandinavian coaching team, and it was he who Guardiola spoke to when he saw the future Real Madrid star perform.

Pep's Odegaard desires

”You have to bring that boy to Munich, you have to bring him to Munich!” Pep exclaimed. “I will make him the best player in the world..." This is the account direct from the mouth of Fjørtoft himself.

Nordic newspaper Nettavisen has reported the story as told by the former player of Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, Eintracht Frankfurt, among several other clubs, on the podcast, 'Here we go', hosted by the Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Fjørtoft was a guest on the show and recalled the event with great enthusiasm. At that time Odegaard was still on the books of Norwegian side Strømsgodset, and Fjørtoft explained how he, the Norwegian national team coach and the Odegaard family got together to talk about the next step in the youngster’s career.

"Later, when we returned, I, as coach of the Norwegian national team, invited Martin, his father and the national team coach to my home. At that time I wrote down on a piece of paper which four clubs I thought at that time were closest to signing Odegaard. Liverpool, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.”

Young guns | Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Odegaard on Norway duty.

Fjørtoft was not Odegaard’s agent but he did advise his father directly, and was in a position to provide us with the inside story of those days when the next steps were being decided

"As you know, Liverpool was his favourite club, his childhood club. In my opinion, I still think the reason he ended up at Real Madrid was quite simple. Firstly, Real Madrid had a second team, the other three clubs didn't. The coach of the second team was Zinedine Zidane. He's not a bad player, he's not a bad coach," he joked.

Bayern's disappointment

According to Fjørtoft, Bayern were disappointed that they had been unable to fulfil Guardiola's wish to sign Odegaard.

“Michael Reschke, who is now at Schalke, was responsible for the recruitment of Munich at the time. I met him after Martin chose to go to Real Madrid and he told me: 'If I had known that the second team would be crucial, I would have built a second team to achieve that’.”

Yet another sliding doors moment for a footballer.