Forget Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, the main star of the opening round of the Champions League this season was Sebastian Haller, who scored four goals for Ajax in a thrilling 5-1 Sporting match in Portugal.
It was a remarkable start to the Champions League for the 27-year-old Ivory Coast striker, in his first appearance in European football’s flagship club competition since Marco van Basten for AC Milan against Gothenburg in IF in 1992. The first player to score four goals.
“I remember Marco van Basten doing that, and he’s one of the greatest players in the history of the game,” said Ajax coach Eric Tan Hague.
“It shows how historic Sebastian’s performance is, but it’s also a reflection of his strengths.
“It’s not just his body, it’s his positioning and his fulfillment, and to be able to do that you need to be really strong mentally.”
Heller’s first two goals in Lisbon came from inside the six-yard box in the first nine minutes. It added another part to the second half from outside.
The poaching is due to the fact that Ajax spent 22.5 million euros (.5 27.5 million) in January to bring Haller back from West Ham United, but Haller had an unsuitable start to his career in Amsterdam.
Ajax somehow forgot to register their new recruits for last season’s Europa League knockout stage. Had he been available, he might have beaten Roma in the quarter-finals. Instead, they went outside.
Heller scored 11 times in the second half of last season at Eredivisie when Ajax clinched the title.
And he started the season with an Ajax team average of a game that couldn’t stop him from scoring – his first six Eredivisie outings included three 5-0 wins and one 9-0 victory.
It is a change in the fortunes of a player who paid West Ham a club record 45 45 million (مل 50 million) in 2019 but scored only 10 times in 48 Premier League games.
He first worked in Frankfurt with Anti Rebekah and Luka Joachim, who went to AC Milan and Real Madrid, respectively.
Before Holler made his name in the Dutch league in Utrecht, he scored more than 50 goals in three years, so Ajax knew what he was getting.
France, meanwhile, may regret its disappearance, even with such an offensive force.
Heller was born and raised on the outskirts of Paris and played for France at the Under-21 level.
However, after reaching the age of 26 without being called by Didier Deschamps, he chose to represent Ivory Coast instead when his mother’s country of birth approached him last year.
“There comes a time when you need to make a decision, look at the competition in your position and be honest with yourself,” he told Hundred Feet magazine last year.
“It was really something when I scored my first goal in my first cap against Madagascar. I was very happy.”
Heller scored both goals in a recent World Cup qualifying win over Cameroon and hopes to represent Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations in the new year.
First of all, he hopes to continue his remarkable goal-scoring record in the Champions League when Ajax hosts on Tuesday.