Would it have been different for Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League last season if he had not mistakenly forgotten the name of Ivory Coast international Sebastian Haller in the squad? It is impossible to get an answer. But what is certain is that the striker did not expect this “unbelievable” European start after achieving a feat not achieved since 1992 in the highest continental competition, the Champions League.
The 27-year-old made a dream start in the parent competition, scoring four “super hat-trick” goals during his team’s 5-1 win away from Sporting Portugal in Lisbon, in the first stage of the group stage on Wednesday.
Haller became only the second player in history to score a quartet in his first appearance in the Champions League with its new system, and the first since Dutchman Marco van Basten in November 1992 with AC Milan (against Sweden’s Goteborg).
After the win, he said, “I still can’t believe what happened. It’s a dream. I couldn’t have expected better. I’m happy and trying to enjoy the evening.”
Halfway through last season, Haller moved to the Dutch capital in the winter period from West Ham United in January for 22.5 million euros, after scoring 14 goals in 54 games with the London club.
After Ajax failed to reach the 16th round of the Champions League after being third in its group behind Liverpool and Atalanta, it qualified for the knockout stages of the European League, the European League.
But in a strange incident, he forgot his registration in the European Union list for the game “Wifa”, which prevented him from taking part in the tournament, which the four-time European champions exited from the quarter-finals against Rome, by losing 3-2 on aggregate.
He commented after Wednesday’s match in an interview with the UEFA website, “I just tried not to be too emotional because playing matches like this at a young age is a dream. So I was just focused on getting my tasks done, focusing on the other team, both tactically and physically, and today I thank my teammates.” in the team for this.”
– late arrival –
Haller’s name was late to emerge on the football scene, whether at the club level or internationally.
Born in France to a French father and an Ivorian mother in 1994, he has represented the European national team’s age groups since 2010 (under 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 years old).
He played in the European Cup and the U-17 World Cup in 2011, in which he stood out remarkably, but he managed to get a call-up to participate with the first team.
He began his professional career with the French club Auxerre in the year 2012 and moved between Dutch Utrecht (2015-2017), Eintracht Frankfurt (2017-2019) and West Ham (2019-2021), before his performance paid off with a summons by the French coach of the Ivory Coast national team Patrice. Baumel for the first time to the “Elephants” team.
The tall player (1.90 m) made his first international match on November 12 when he came on as a substitute against Madagascar and scored the winning goal 2-1 in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
On the sixth of this month, he scored two goals in his country’s 2-1 victory over Cameroon in the African qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
© 2021 AFP