There is a growing excitement in French football at the moment as the Ballon d’Or Féminin’s first ever winner, Ada Hegerberg, made her long-awaited return to football after 21 months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
The Olympique Lyonnais forward has been sidelined since January 2020 with the issue. Having missed more than a season and a half of first team football, she’s been a massive loss for the French outfit.
Hegerberg was Lyon’s top scorer for five straight seasons, notching 118 league goals from 2015/16 to 2019/20, as the Norwegian took them from strength to strength not only in France but also across Europe.
In that same period, OL won five out of their seven Champions League titles in convincing wins over VfL Wolfsburg, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona – with Hegerberg becoming the competition’s top scorer in history.
During the 4-1 final win against the Catalan giants in 2019, Hegerberg scored a first-half hat-trick that demonstrated her attacking prowess and her refined finishing technique – dismantling Alexia Putellas and co. in just 30 minutes.Embed from Getty Images
Absence makes the winning desire stronger
Having a striker with her physical presence and lethal eye for goal is invaluable for any team, and it’s no wonder that Lyon’s results have dropped in standard during Hegerberg’s lengthy absence.
Though they managed to secure the 2019/20 UCL title without the 26-year-old, in last season’s campaign they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by league rivals Paris Saint-Germain.
To rub salt in the wounds, the Parisians won the French Division 1 title for the first time in their history and simultaneously ended Lyon’s 14-year reign at the top of the table, as well as their 80-game unbeaten league run.
Eight games into the current season and the two clubs already find themselves tied at the summit of the table, each with a flawless eight-win record.
We know the race for the title will be close this year, so Lyon will be hoping that Hegerberg can come back into the team and give them the boost they’ll need.Embed from Getty Images
The comeback is on
She made her official return last week in the Champions League match against Häcken where she came on as a substitute, made a league return in their 5-0 win over Montpellier.
Hegerberg managed to get herself an assist as she picked out Sally Julini in the box late into the game, and spoke post-match about her joy of being back on the pitch.
“I’ve been having so much fun for a few weeks. It feels good to find the team, the fields and the supporters. My absence was long. The rest of my career will be good. I appreciate the support of my family, friends and staff.
“I still have work to do to get back to the top of the top. Everyone is hungry in the group. We have pressure this year, we are going to work hard.
“The season will be long so you have to be vigilant and demanding. But we have fun and that’s the most important thing.”