Exclusive – Ada Hegerberg is ‘convinced’ she can replicate her previous world-class form after returning to the pitch following a 20-month injury layoff.
Hegerberg made her hugely anticipated comeback for Lyon as a substitute in their UEFA Women’s Champions League clash against Hacken earlier this month, having not played at all since suffering an ACL injury in January 2020.
“It was quite overwhelming, to be honest, all these emotions building up through that long period of time,” Hegerberg told 90min of the moment when she was able to get back onto the pitch.
“I’m very humbled by the work that still remains, but that was such a big step for me personally and I was overwhelmed by the response as well, all the support from all corners. I just let it soak in and onto the next, you know.
“When I got those minutes, I felt this huge warm welcome back feeling from everyone. I’ve got my teammates with me after the game hugging me and we’re just sharing all these emotions. It was beautiful.“
After such a long time out of action, Hegerberg, who has scored 220 goals in only 183 appearances for Lyon to make her the world’s most feared striker before her injury, is aware that she needs to be patient with herself and has already come to terms with that.
“It’s going to be step by step. It’s no joke, the highest level,” she admits.
“Even if I was at my best 20 months ago [and] with all the work I’ve put down, there’s a lot of work to be done still, a lot of commitment and hard work, mentally and physically. I need to be patient. I think other people need to be patient as well.
“I am convinced that I will get there with the work that I’m putting down at the moment, but it just takes time. That’s how it is and I’m accepting that as well, but I’m just trying to enjoy myself. Putting down all this hard work, if you don’t enjoy yourself with the progress and development, it would be much, much harder. Being back playing football again is just a joy to me.”
The pace of development within the women’s game has changed enormously, even just during the time that Hegerberg has been sidelined. She returns to a revamped Champions League format that is also now more accessible to fans around the world, because DAZN is broadcasting all 61 matches this season live and for free on YouTube.
“The setup has changed, DAZN coming in, covering the whole Champions League. The Champions League format has changed. I feel like the first couple of days with the games now were fantastic, the whole broadcast [and] the free access,” Hegerberg explains.
“I’ve gotten so much feedback from people who have enjoyed these games because it’s been professional material as well. It’s been organised great and that’s what we need as well in order to get the product out there.
“So I’m just happy to see entertaining games because from performances you also get back a lot from all the broadcasting. I’m thrilled to get this going and I really hope that we continue to perform, us the players, that we deliver, and we can create a great season for the Champions League.”
Ada Hegerberg is DAZN’s first ever season-long global women’s football ambassador. Thanks to the the partnership with DAZN and YouTube, for the first time, fans around the world can finally follow every single UEFA Women’s Champions League match throughout the entire season for free on DAZN’s UEFA Women’s Champions League YouTube channel.