Spanish cameramen and photographers at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo on Saturday will be looking for one image in particular as they focus on Spain‘s Euro 2020 qualifier with Norway – the embrace and possible shirt swap between Sergio Ramos and Martin Odegaard.
Ramos would have been one of those senior players slightly baffled by the presence of the 16-year-old Norwegian in first-team training sessions at Real Madrid in 2015.
It was an uncomfortable situation, especially for the teenager who had just arrived from Stromsgodset.
All eyes will be on Sergio Ramos and Martin Odegaard as the pair face off on Saturday
Odegaard’s Norway are set to play Ramos’ Spain in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers in Oslo
Ramos was one of many confused Madrid players when Odegaard trained with Real Madrid
MARTIN ODEGAARD 2019-20
Minutes played: 720
He used to train with Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo through the week and then play with the B-team Real Madrid Castilla at the weekends.
It was a difficult arrangement that led to him failing to fit into either environments. The seniors couldn’t understand why the youngster was playing alongside them, even going on the pre-season tours as his contract also specified.
And the B-team players didn’t appreciate him not taking part in training sessions but then being first choice. His arrival coincided with a drastic downturn in their form.
But that was then. Four years on Odegaard has more than earned that precious commodity that nobody gave him in 2015 – respect. Everyone at Madrid, and no one more so than Ramos, who is old-fashioned when it comes to things like football and hierarchy, admires the way Odegaard broke free from the protectionism afforded him at Madrid, honed his trade in the Dutch league and is now leading Real Sociedad’s surge up the table.
Odegaard joined Real Madrid in a high-profile deal from Stromsgodset in January 2015
The youngster flitted in between the first team squad and the youth team and didn’t settle
Odegaard alienated himself from his Madrid B team-mates as he trained with the first team
His spells at Heerenveen and Vitesse have helped make him a midfield athlete with the engine to cover the entire pitch. He now looks like the complete midfielder.
He can play the perfect passes to the forwards, he can win the ball back, he can run beyond the strikers and arrive in the area to finish himself and he can get up and down the pitch for 90 minutes.
He’s still a number 10, but he can operate wide where he usually plays for Norway, and he could even play in the two in a 4-2-3-1 where he operated in some games in pre-season for Real Sociedad.
He has a two-year loan deal at Real Sociedad and has already bought a house in the region.
That sort of commitment has made him hugely popular with Real Sociedad supporters and his displays have convinced the Basque club’s fans that they could even get back into the Champions League places this season.