2018 UEFA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

" EMOTION, ADRENALINE AND JUST PURE HAPPINESS "

As scoring records tumbled during the 2017/18 season, Lyon’s Norwegian striking sensation Ada Hegerberg told the 2018 final programme, there is nothing quite like scoring in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

This article was first published in the 2018 UEFA Women's Champions League Final Programme. Buy your programme here.

Congratulations on reaching another final.

It’s such an incredible feeling every time we get the chance to reach the final. It’s a really huge challenge, reaching our third final in a row. You just have to enjoy it – and we’ll be ready to win it as well.

What is it like to score in the final?

It’s hard to describe the feeling when you score a goal. So much emotion, so much adrenaline and just pure happiness. I never plan a celebration. It all happens so quickly, and especially scoring in a final is a huge, huge thing. Winning it as well, that’s the most important thing. Having those two feelings in one game is a fantastic experience.

Year after year, Lyon raise the bar. What drives you as
a team?

The hunger of winning is what drives us. Every year we want to start over anew. It’s important to analyse ourselves after every season. What did we do well? What do we need to maybe change a bit? What do we need to add to take those small steps to develop? Because we want to stay the best team in Europe or the world. There are a lot of teams coming up now, and we want to stay where we are so it’s a challenge. It’s a lot of work, first of all. You need strong characters and a strong mentality to always want to drive the team further. I think we have those qualities.

When you first arrived at Lyon in 2014 the fans worshipped Lotta Schelin. Now they talk about Ada. Do you feel that?

Absolutely, and it’s such a special feeling. When I was younger, I was used to watch Lotta play, and she was kind of an idol for me. I came here and they just took me into their arms. I learned a lot from Lotta – not only a fantastic player, but also as a person. I grew a lot with her. I’ll never forget when I came to Lyon, and they were a bunch of world-class players and I was new in the game but they all took such good care of me. I’ll always remember that and try to give back to the younger ones who come in the team as well, because I know the importance of this.

What do you practise to improve your game?

It’s all about the details. The quality put into training every day, into the small details, will always push you further. I always try to do everything with the highest quality possible, either in training with the team, or when I’m practising alone with the ball. That’s something I’ve been doing my whole career – practising on my own, repeating in front of goal, for example: touch, shooting, dribbling. There are mental aspects as well. Every day you go through scenarios that can happen in the game. You can stand in the kitchen making food, and you think about these goals that come to mind.

Do you have an example?

When you step on to the pitch you want things to be clear from the first kick. You don’t need those five, ten minutes to get into the game. You need to be perfect from touch one, and that’s something you need to prepare for mentally every day. A detail can be a small action in your everyday life. Do I get those hours of sleep, or do I eat well enough? There are all kinds of details when you’re at the highest level.

IT'S BEEN A DREAM, SINCE I WAS A KID, TO WIN IT AND THEN WE WON IT. NOW WE JUST WANT TO KEEP ON DOING IT.

What has impressed you most about coach Reynald Pedros?

He has a bit of a different character, different tactics. The philosophy of how he wants to play is maybe a bit more direct. We already know that we’re capable of keeping the ball, having a lot of possession, and [with] the choice of going faster, attacking a bit faster, he has helped us develop that kind of play. He’s a bit younger in his style, he laughs a lot, he’s calm and he’s created a good atmosphere. He puts in crosses in training sometimes and when they’re not good enough I tell him!

What does the Champions League mean to you?

It’s the most beautiful competition in the world. Everyone knows the importance of winning a Champions League. It’s the biggest thing you can do as a footballer. When I step on the pitch and play a Champions League game I feel I’m whole – this is it. At Lyon we have such high ambitions, but it’s a fantastic feeling to have that pressure and still mix it with that joy. It’s been a dream, since I was a kid, to win it, and then I won it. Now we just want to keep on doing it.

How does it feel to lift the trophy?

It’s such an incredible feeling. I think that’s the highlight of my career. I’ve been lucky to do it two times. I just wanted to do it again, because it’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever had in my career. It suddenly gets so real, winning it. Every day you work so hard for it with your team-mates, everyone’s been gathered around this one goal – to win the Champions League together. When you achieve that goal as a team, it’s everything. You get goose bumps talking about it, it’s that powerful.

A moment to share?

Absolutely, because you have so many people bringing you to that point. I have my family, all my key people in my circle around me. We have the club, we have the president who believes in us year after year, Jean-Michel Aulas, and the fans. You have all these people supporting you so, of course, you want to share the emotions.

You have played a significant role in UEFA’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign. How much have you enjoyed it?

It’s huge, it’s important, it’s something that I live for – pushing youngsters to get into the game and inspiring them, creating this interest so that people can watch the women’s game a bit more. That was missing when I was younger. I always watched men play, but I didn’t really have women footballers as idols. Hopefully this can attract youngsters to play football. I’m a proud Norwegian abroad. It’s been cool to see all these young girls and boys coming to me with all these kind words, looking up to me like an idol. I’ll never get used to it, but it’s something that I take really seriously. I like being an idol for someone else and hopefully I can perform. That’s the most important thing, to perform on the pitch and still be me off the pitch.

What do you love most about football?

What I love the most about football is that it’s for everyone. It’s as simple as that. It’s so simple to have a ball and go out and play with your friends, whether you’re a boy or a girl, young or old. It’s so global and it’s easily accessible for everyone. I try to keep in mind that I’m really privileged to be in the position that I am. I’ve worked hard for it, of course, but try to enjoy it as much as possible as well. There are hundreds of thousands of others that wish they were in our position.

ENJOYING THE MOMENT

Lyon's striker Ada Hegerberg opens about the art of scoring, her favourite Women's Champions League goal and keeping ahead of the game

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