Alf-Inge Haaland's majestic Leeds United double proved a sign of things to come
YORKSHIREMAN Erling Haaland is now one of the hottest properties in football, nearly 21 years on from his birth in the city of Leeds in July 2000.
The Borussia Dortmund striker’s goalscoring record is quite literally something else.
But dad Alf-Inge certainly knew how to put one in the back of the net too – and did so twice in a memorable 4-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road back on March 11, 1998.
Erling was still over two years away from being born and Alf-Inge was only nine months into his Leeds United career, having signed from Nottingham Forest in July 1997.
Forest had recruited the Norwegian midfielder from Bryne FK in the city in which Erling would also begin his football education, the family having moved back to Norway while Erling was still a youngster.
Alf-Inge was signed by George Graham as the Scottish manager began his first full season in charge of Leeds for the ’97-98 campaign and Haaland quickly became a regular for a side that had finished 11th the previous season.
United had been solid defensively but lacked goals in a massive way as Lee Sharpe and Brian Deane finished as joint top scorers with five each.
But the arrival of Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink in the summer transformed United’s fortunes and Haaland popped up with the odd goal too, including two rockets against Rovers.
Haaland lined up against Blackburn in a side that featured Nigel Martyn in goal behind Gary Kelly, Lucas Radebe, David Wetherall, Ian Harte, Martin Hiden, Lee Bowyer, David Hopkin, Harry Kewell and Hasselbaink.
A young Stephen McPhail was among those on the bench for a side who were looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss at home to Wolves in the FA Cup.
Blackburn – who were champions in 1995 – had finished the previous season in 13th and were now under the care of Roy Hodgson, who had succeeded Ray Harford after the Kenny Dalglish days came to an end.
Rovers were on their way to finishing seventh and Leeds and Blackburn entered the half-time interval of the March clash at Elland Road with the score goalless.
But Graham’s Whites then plundered four goals without reply in the second half as Haaland netted two absolute gems.
Bowyer got the ball rolling, scoring three minutes after the interval, and Hasselbaink doubled the home advantage five minutes later.
But it then became the Haaland show as the midfielder netted two contenders for goal of the season in both the 56th and 89th minutes to put the gloss on a 4-0 victory.
His first goal was an absolute peach and came from a Whites throw-in which was cleared but only to Wetherall, whose header found Haaland with his back to goal and just inside the box.
The midfielder controlled the ball and took one touch to turn before unleashing a rasping volley into the top left corner.
But his second goal was arguably even better and came from all of 30, if not 35, yards out.
Bowyer was fouled in the centre circle but Leeds played on and Kewell worked the ball to Haaland in the middle of the park.
The midfielder again took two touches to set himself and then unleashed a majestic effort which had ’keeper Alan Fettis scurrying across his line to no avail as the ball flew into the bottom right corner from Haaland’s boot. Haaland netted two more goals in the remainder of the campaign to take his seasonal tally to seven.
The Whites were on their way to finishing fifth, putting the club back in Europe the following season, and one of today’s biggest stars in Europe was then born in July 2000 as Alf-Inge welcomed son Erling to the world.
By then, the Norwegian midfielder had just signed for Manchester City following three seasons with the Whites, and even today the affection for Leeds from both father and son lives on.
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Thank you Laura Collins