In 2017, Norwegian Ada Martine Stolsmo Hegerberg was officially named Europe’s best female soccer player. In 2018, she won the Ballon d’Or (French for Golden Ball). Learn more about the world’s first best women’s soccer player – from Norway.
That’s quite unique for a woman who comes from a country that is not known to be a powerful football nation. Nevertheless, the name Ada Martine Stolsmo Hegerberg will forever be written in gold in the history books of soccer as the first ever female winner of the Ballon d’Or.
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Hegerberg has represented Norway at the youth international level, and made her debut for the senior team in 2011. In 2013, she was a part of the silver medalist team at the 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship. She was on team Norway at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship and the 2022 UEFA Women’s Championship.
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Since 2014 she has played in Olympique Lyonnaise, the most successful club in the UEFA competition’s history, winning the title eight times, including five consecutive titles from 2016 to 2020.
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On 18 May 2019, Hegerberg delivered a Player of the Match performance in the 2019 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. With a hat-trick in just 16 minutes, she became the first player to score three goals in a UWCL final. Lyon completed the treble against Barcelona with a 4–1 victory, winning a fourth UWCL trophy in a row, a unique performance in modern football. By the end of the season, Hegerberg had won 13 out of 15 trophies possible in her stay with Lyon.
The Ballon d’Or is an annual football award presented by France Football. It has been awarded since 1956 and become the most prestigious individual award in international soccer. Until 2018, it was exclusively awarded to male players.
Hegerberg was born in Molde 1995 but grew up in Sunndalsøra where she played for Sunndal Fotball along with her older sister Andrine. In 2007, their family moved to Kolbotn outside Oslo.
Hegerberg has been a controversial figure in Norwegian soccer after stepping away from the national team after a disastrous European Championship in 2017 for no apparent reason other than “frustrations with the way women’s soccer was treated within Norway.”
“The fact that we have such icons who lead and show the way, and who also have a personality and a demeanor that is incredibly serious in relation to the sport, helps to increase interest and recruitment. It is also incredibly important for the commercial value of women’s soccer in Norway. It is the power of example,” said Terje Svendsen, president of the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF).
“It’s a historic moment for women, and maybe even Norwegian history,” said Hegerberg smiling when she received the Ballon d’Or. “It’s a mix of many different emotions, and I’m speechless.”
Ada and Andrine’s father, Stein Erik Hegerberg, says that he has “never asked them to do a single thing”, but feels that there has been a “craving for learning” throughout. To this day, they leave time for their own training sessions when he visits them in Europe. “Then it’s just the two of us in the whole world,” says Anita Hegerberg, adding that this is what she misses most about living in Lyon. She would gladly pay him to visit her more regularly.
Hegerberg has had a massive media impact over the past years, widely considered as the number one spokesperson for her sport, given the numerous interviews she gave for women’s football.
On 19 November 2020, the US-based streaming platform ESPN+ published a documentary about Hegerberg: My Name is Ada Hegerberg.
Hegerberg has been named one of the most powerful women in sport by a number of media, including Sports Illustrated.
The World’s First Best Women’s Soccer Player – From Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg.
Feature image (on top) © Norwegian Football Federation (NFF)