Ada Hegerberg: Norway’s Ballon d’Or winner, Martin Solveig ‘twerk’ row and World Cup drama
Hegerberg is a star for both club and country but caused controversy when she left the pitch just moments before her native Norway were due to kick off against Switzerland on Tuesday
The first seven days of the FIFA Women’s World Cup have brought us plenty of action on the pitch and lots of drama off it too. One of the biggest talking points of the tournament so far emerged on Tuesday, when Norway star Ada Hegerberg was spotted heading down the tunnel just moments before her side were due to get underway against Switzerland. Hegerberg had lined up alongside her teammates to belt out the national anthem and attracted some perplexed looks as she withdrew from the action, with Roma striker Sophie Haug called in at the eleventh hour as her replacement. Hegerberg watched on from the bench as Norway were held by the Swiss in Hamilton. Her national team later confirmed she had withdrawn from from playing after suffering a groin injury just moments before kick-off, with the striker herself taking to social media to explain she had felt “discomfort” in the minutes before the game. However, this isn’t the first time Hegerberg has found herself caught up in controversy. From being asked to twerk with her Ballon d’or prize to her five-year international exile, here’s all you need to know about Norway’s scoring sensation…
Who is Ada Hegerberg?
One of the most recognisable faces in the women’s game, Ada Hegerberg made her senior debut for Norgwegian side Kolbotn in 2010. Stints at Stabaek and Turbine Potsdam followed before she made the switch to French giants Lyon. By that point, Hegerberg was already a star on the international stage, having won her first senior cap for Norway in 2011 and helped her country to a second-place finish at the 2013 European championships. The 28-year-old has since gone on to become a talisman for both club and country, scoring 43 goals in 76 games for Norway. With Lyon, Hegerberg has won a staggering eight league titles and six Champions League trophies, having notched 243 goals in just 219 outings. She was awarded the 2016 UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe Award and has twice been named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Hegerberg is currently the all-time highest goalscorer in UEFA Women’s Champions League (59 goals).
Ballon d’or triumph
In 2018, Hegerberg bacame the first-ever recipient of the Ballon d’Or Feminin. The striker, who had helped Lyon to the French title and Champions League, scoring in the final, pipped Denmark’s Pernille Harder to the prize. However her moment of glory was marred by an awkward encounter with host Martin Solveig. After presenting Hegerberg with her prize, the French DJ asked her if she wanted to dance in celebration and “knew how to twerk”, to which the striker responded “no”, before reluctantly agreeing to dance to another song with Solveig. Solveig tweeted shortly after the ceremony, saying he had apologised to Hegerberg for the remark. “I explained to [Ada] and she told me she understood it was a joke,” he wrote. “Nevertheless, my apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Most importantly, congratulations to Ada.” Hegerberg said: “He came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way. I didn’t really consider it sexual harassment or anything in the moment. I was just happy to do the dance and win the Ballon d’Or.”
Quitting Norway… and then returning
In the summer of 2017, Hegerberg opted to stop representing the national team as a form of protest due to a dispute with the Norwegian Football Federation about their attitutde towards the women’s game. As a result, she missed the 2019 World Cup, and told Norwegian soccer magazine Josimar her time with the national team had been “deeply depressing”, giving her “nightmares” and leaving her “mentally broken”. In March 2022, Hegerberg ended her five-year international exile, scoring a hat-trick in her first game back – a 5–1 win against Kosovo in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification. “It feels incredibly good to be back,” Hegerberg said at the time. “I will do my part to help us achieve great things, both on and off the field – for football, for Norway, but not least for the next generation.”