Norwegian wonderkid Andreas Schjelderup has revealed the "hurt" he felt when he rejected a move to Liverpool, but insists he made the right decision to instead join FC Nordsjaelland having broken into the first team in Denmark.
The 17-year-old playmaker, who this week was named on the NXGN 2022 list of the 50 best teenage footballers in the world, had trials at a number of top European clubs before joining Nordsjaelland from Bodo/Glimt in 2020.
It is a move that has certainly paid off, with Schjelderup having made 36 first-team appearances already, marking him out as one of the most experienced players of his age in Europe.
What has been said?
"Of course, it was a bit hard (turning down Liverpool), because when you grow up, you watch the big names and then you hear that they want you, so your head starts to spin," Schjelderup, who also had trials at Bayern Munich, Juventus and Ajax, told GOAL.
"But I got a lot of help from my father and agents, who helped me make the right decision.
"It hurt a little bit for me and my dad in our hearts (not to join Liverpool), but the move here was instead of going to an academy at Under-19 or Under-17 level.
"It felt like this step in the ocean was the right one for me. I was in the Under-19s team when I got started, but I knew when I was ready that I could take a step up to the first team.GOAL
"But at the club, they said they didn’t expect me to get there this quick! I planned to do it sooner than they thought, and my plan worked.
"Of course, maybe I can go to a big team in the future. In the long run, for me, this was the best step. When I am ready, I will take the next step."
How does Andreas Schjelderup play?
An attacking midfielder whose best assets are his dribbling and passing ability, Schjelderup has been likened to Eden Hazard and Jack Grealish in the past, and they are comparisons he welcomes.
"Jack Grealish is a great player of course," he added. "I can see some similarities in the way we play.
"I am an offensive player who likes to have the ball, the same as Grealish, so I can see why they make that comparison. But I would like to get my numbers up in goals and assists to help contribute to the team."
Schjelderup has scored three goals over the course of the 2021-22 season, to go with the three he netted last season, when he became Nordsjaelland's youngest-ever goalscorer.
What does the future hold?
Schjelderup will not turn 18 until June, and there is sure to be plenty of clubs who consider signing him at the end of the season.
The Norway U21 international is, however, focused on the present, with his only true aims at international level, where he is hopeful of joining Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard in the senior squad in a bid to revive the struggling Scandinavian nation's fortunes.GOAL
"I first want to play in the European Championship at U21 or U19s level," he said. "Hopefully one day, I can play with the first team.
"The last 20 years has not been the best for Norway. We have not been in the big championships for a long time.
"But we have players like Haaland and Odegaard coming up. There's also my former team-mate, who plays at Frankfurt, Jens Petter Hauge, who helps me, and also all the players in the age-group teams.
"It looks like the future is bright for Norway, so we hope to make it a reality.
"When I see what these guys are doing and that they are from Norway, you look at them and you get inspiration."