Who is Alf-Inge Haaland?
- Erling Haaland has signed a mega-deal with Manchester City for the next five years
- His motivation to move to City is his father who previously played for the club
- Haaland Sr. was club captain until injuries forced him to call quits on his career
The Premier League champions have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund to recruit the striker after opting to pay his release clause. Haaland is expected to sign a five-year deal after undergoing a physical on Monday. It is a deal that will pique the curiosity of football fans everywhere, but for Haaland, it is just a return to where it all began.
Alf-Inge Haaland, the 21-year-old’s father completed a relocation to City a month before his birth in July 2000. Haaland Sr. joined a completely different City two decades ago. The club had spent a lengthy period in the despair through the 1980s and 1990s, sliding into the third division of English football for the first time in their existence in 1998, while still playing at their former home at Maine Road.
Nevertheless, Haaland also joined a squad that was riding high after back-to-back promotions to the Premier League under manager Joe Royle. A core of the same group that had been losing games to the likes of York City and Wycombe Wanderers 18 months before was about to rub hands with Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea once again.
As a result, Royle sought to add some top-tier experience, and versatile Norwegian international Haaland was towards the top of his wanted list. Alfie joined Nottingham Forest in December 1993 after rising through the ranks at his local club Bryne, where Erling would also make his debut. He went on to play in three Premier League seasons at the City Ground, scoring six goals in the last one in 1996/97.
That cleared the way for a transfer to Leeds United, where he scored seven goals in 1997/98. Haaland's flexibility came back to haunt him in 1999/2000, when he was reduced to a squad utility position and only made 13 league games for a Leeds team that reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals. A fresh challenge was required.
City's close season spending included former AC Milan great and Ballon d'Or winner George Weah, who would create an intriguing attack combo with record signing Paulo Wanchope. Long-serving defender Richard Edghill was deprived of captaincy after a dreadful performance in a match, in which he scored an own goal in a 2-1 loss to Coventry City. Haaland was given the captain's armband and led City to a 2-1 victory over his previous side Leeds in his debut game as captain. In October, the Norwegian scored his second goal of the season in a 2-0 win over Bradford City.
From that point on, Haaland's leadership of an unbalanced City side earned accolades, but points were few. City were relegated after a 2-1 defeat to Ipswich Town in their last game of the season. Their captain was injured for that game and was nearing the end of his playing career. Haaland made four substitute appearances for City in December and January in 2001/02. After fruitless recovery attempts towards the conclusion of the next season, he called it quits on his top-level career.