Erling Haaland is on the brink of breaking Norway’s goalscoring record, and it seems inevitable that he will soon become his nation’s highest-scoring striker.
This achievement is remarkable for its swiftness, as Haaland only scored his first goals for Norway in 2020. However, it has been a long time coming.
Of the 213 FIFA-affiliated nations, Norway’s record currently stands as the longest-standing individual goalscoring record in the world. This record was set by Jorgen Juve, who scored 33 goals in 45 matches for Norway, including five hat-tricks. What makes Juve’s record remarkable is the fact that he played as a centre-forward in less than half of those games, with the rest being in defense.
Another notable outlier is Poul “Tist” Nielsen, who scored 52 goals in 38 games for Denmark between 1910 and 1925. His record was later equaled by Jon Dahl Tomasson in 2010.
This graph shows the rarity of long-standing goalscoring records, with only six countries’ records having stood for more than 50 years. Hungary, with Ferenc Puskas’ 84 goals in just 85 games, holds the most inspiring record.
In contrast, a significant number of goalscoring records have been set recently, with 64 of the 211 nations’ record goalscorers having appeared for them in 2023. The median goalscoring mark, in terms of time since they were set, has stood for just seven years.
Italy’s record is particularly surprising, as Giga Riva’s 35 goals scored in World Cup 1974 have yet to be matched or surpassed. This is in contrast to several English and Spanish players reaching this milestone in the same period. The lack of prolific Italian strikers, combined with tactical constraints, has contributed to this shortcoming.
Norway also has a history of being defensive-minded and generally hasn’t been very competitive, having only qualified for four major tournaments.
At just 20 years old, Erling Haaland is currently averaging nearly a goal a game for Norway, a remarkable achievement. It’s not unreasonable to consider where Haaland might end up in the all-time international goalscoring charts worldwide.
Despite Norway’s recent performances, Haaland’s exceptional goal-scoring record and potential make him an exciting prospect for the future.