Erling Haaland grew up idolising Swansea icon Michu, and the pair have since built a heartwarming friendship featuring shirt swapping, shared celebrations and social media interactions.
The Norwegian forward, who has so far netted 20 goals in 14 games for new club Manchester City, had ties to English football before completing his big money move this summer.
Erling’s father, Alfie, played for Nottingham Forest, Leeds and City during his 10-year stay in the UK.
And growing up, the prolific Haaland was an avid fan of the Premier League. “I have always enjoyed watching football all my life,” Haaland told VG. “I think that has been very positive for me.
“When Saturday came, you came home from the ground and had trained with your friends, and then it was to have football the rest of the day on TV, from the Premier League to La Liga to Serie A.”
In the same interview, Haaland opened up about his idol, Michu. “I have always liked to see other strikers do well,” he added. “That’s probably why I’ve always liked to be sharp. That is why I liked Michu so much.
“A forward in the flow zone, there is nothing better than looking at this. I have always enjoyed watching him. Simply my whole life.”
Since Haaland’s appreciation for the former Swansea man emerged, fans have picked up on the fact that Haaland used to tag Michu in a lot of his old Instagram posts.
In fact, it appears the Norwegian used to pretend to be his idol on a weekly basis throughout his youth career.
Check out a few of his Instagram posts below.
Michu, who scored 22 goals for Swansea in his debut season, has spoken about Haaland on numerous occasions over the years. When he was still at Borussia Dortmund, Haaland swapped shirts with the Spaniard.
The 36-year-old recently opened up about that gesture in an interview with Cadena SER.
“I gave him a Burgos shirt and he gave me a Borussia shirt,” Michu said. “I’m glad he’s having that impact in England, he’s going to be a star at European level with Mbappe. They’re going to reign like [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] did.
“For me it is an honour that a footballer of this level had me as a reference when I was younger,” he added.
“If he doesn’t have any serious injuries, he could be playing 13 or 15 more seasons at the highest level. If all goes well, he will score more than 300 goals.”
It’s easy to see why Michu became such a prominent figure in Haaland’s life growing up. The likeable centre-forward joined Swansea in a £3 million deal in 2012 and went on to win their Player of the Year award.
On his Premier League debut against Queens Park Rangers at a packed out Loftus Road, the Spanish striker scored twice and provided an assist in a 5-0 drubbing.
It was the start of a season to remember for the former Celta Vigo forward.
He maintained that level of goalscoring form for the rest of the campaign, bagging a mightily impressive 22 goals in all competitions.
Swansea finished in 9th place and would lift the League Cup under Michael Laudrup – their first major trophy win.