Valencia Secure 15 Year Old Superstar
Valencia has announced today the capture of fifteen year old Martin Ødegaard from Strømsgodset, who play in Norway. The youngster was courted by several top clubs around the world, but chose Valencia due to his treatment by the club when talking to them.
“Most of the other clubs talked to me like was a professional footballer, aged twenty-three or twenty-four. But I am not, I am fifteen, I go to school every day still. Valencia are a top club, a club I can see myself playing for long term in the future, and they spoke to me in a very professional manner, but still took in account of my age. They offered me a place in the local school, a house that could hold all my family, and said they will pay for the move here, which won my heart.”
Ødegaard joined Strømsgodset at a young age, but bypassed most of the youth teams, and was invited to train with the first team aged fourteen in 2013. Europe’s top clubs started to take interest in this remarkable achievement, and short trials and visits to Manchester United and Bayern Munich entailed. In January 2014, it was agreed that Ødegaard would become part of Strømsgodset’s first team for the 2014 campaign, but no contract was signed, leaving him open to a transfer elsewhere.
He went on to make his debut for the club in April 2014, coming on as a substitute against Aalesunds FK, where he subsequently broke the record for the youngest player ever to play in Norway’s top flight, the Tippeligaen. In May, he went on to sign his first professional contract for the remainder of the 2014 season and the 2015 campaign.
Ødegaard went on to score his first professional goal against Sarpsborg 08 FF, netting the fourth goal in a four-one win for his side. However, he made his major breakthrough in a game against Sandnes Ulf in July, playing a part in all three goals scored by his team, scoring a goal and also assisting one. He was also fouled inside the penalty box, which subsequently earned his team the spot kick, which was missed. This performance had caused the Norwegian press to speculate a call-up into the Norway National Team, despite his young age.
He continued his fine form, making headlines against IK Start. He started the game on the right wing, which resulted in him laying off three assists for his teammates, bringing the three points to the Marienlyst Stadion.
Already subject to press speculation, this increased when the new volume of the Football Manager video game series was announced, due to legal constraints, he was not allowed to appear in the game. However, much to the delight of the games fans, Ødegaard’s father, his agent, Hans Erik Ødegaard phoned the games director allowing him to be in the game.
Upon announcing the move, new Valencia boss Alejandro Sabella said
“He is a very talented boy with a huge successful future ahead of him. To be playing for your team at the age of fifteen in amazing, and to be wanted by clubs such as Man United and Bayern shows he has that something special that only a few people have, and you can see that when you look at the world’s best of the past and present. I hope he stays at Valencia for a very long time and become a huge part in the clubs future.”
The signing comes after the announcement of the termination of Bruno Zuculini and Felipe Augusto’s loan spells to the club, which Sabella was widely criticised by the footballing world for not giving youth a chance; however this move may prove his doubters wrong.
“I want people to realise that I released those players not because of their age, but because they did not fit my team. I think youth players are great, and they are the future of football, of that particular club. They need to play to develop and I feel that they wouldn’t have had that chance if they had stayed.”
Ødegaard won’t join Valencia until the 2nd of January 2015, which is when his contract with Strømsgodset ends. It is reported that Los Che will have to fork over £9.75k in compensation for the wonderkid’s services.