Ada Hegerberg's Return in 2021 Is Something to Get Very Excited About

Nov 19, 2020, 4:30 PM GMT
Olympique Lyonnais v FC Barcelona Women - UEFA Women's Champions League Final
Ada Hegerberg is on her comeback from injury | Daniela Porcelli/Getty Images

On 18 May 2019, Ada Hegerberg netted a hat-trick inside 30 minutes. In the Champions League final.

The Lyon forward scored three goals in the space of 16 first half minutes to guide her side to the most prestigious honour in club football for a fourth successive season.

Ada Hegerberg
Hegerberg's hat-trick helped Lyon to Champions League glory in 2019 | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The year 2019 was a momentous one for women's football, but when you reflect back on it, Ada Hegerberg - the Champions League final hat-trick hero - is not one of the players you would first associate with it.

The 2019 World Cup in particular was a watershed moment for the women's game, and the star studded USWNT - Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and co - that secured their second successive crown in France are the players best connected with said year in women's football.

Hegerberg though was not at the World Cup. Her native Norway did qualify, but the forward has not represented her country since 2017 as she continues to protest against the discrepancies in the way in which the male and female national teams are treated.

Despite being absent from the year's showpiece event, the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner and Champions League's all-time top scorer began the 2019/20 campaign in her usual ruthless form, with 23 goals in just 18 appearances.

Norway v Denmark - UEFA Women's Euro 2017: Group A
Hegerberg has not played for Norway since 2017 | Trond Tandberg/Getty Images

However, she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January 2020, followed by a stress fracture to her left tibia in September. It's been nearly a year since Hegerberg last kicked a ball competitively.

As a result, it's easy to forget just how good she is.

“I’m not coming back just to come back," she told the Guardian. "I’m coming back to reconquer my position in world football.”

It was quite a status in world football Hegerberg had been afforded prior to her injury problems. The 25-year-old had spent most of her career sending records tumbling. She became the fastest person in the history of the Champions League to score a half century of goals in the competition. With 53 goals in 50 appearances, the striker is the all-time top scorer in the women's Champions League. Her 15 goals during the 2018/19 tournament is a competition record.

Outrageous scoring statistics are a common theme for Hegerberg; she's also netted 229 goals in 221 domestic appearances for Lyon, Turbine Potsdam, Stabæk and Kolbotn.

Her eye for goal, anticipation and intelligence frequently shine through, with Hegerberg lethal in the penalty area but also capable of pulling a long range stunner out of her locker, while her balance, athleticism and ability to ride a challenge make her an absolute nightmare to mark.

Lyon secured a fifth consecutive Champions League crown in 2020 despite missing their talisman from the quarter final stages onwards. With investment in women's teams across Europe steadily increasing - particularly in England - Lyon will have a fight on their hands to secure a sixth successive title, with Chelsea and Wolfsburg likely to pose a real threat to their dominance.

But the added competition will only make the tournament more entertaining - so too will the reintroduction of one of the finest players in world football.

The year 2020 has largely been a car crash (unless you're Joe Wicks or Jeff Bezos). The thought of Ada Hegerberg returning for Lyon in an intensely competitive Champions League is at least something to look forward to in 2021.