Signe Gaupset: The Norway teenager tipped to follow in the footsteps of Martin Odegaard, Caroline Graham Hansen & Ada Hegerberg

Signe Gaupset Brann 2022
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Inspired by Kevin De Bruyne and described by a team-mate as "completely unique", the 17-year-old is already proving decisive in the biggest of matches

Norway seems to have a knack for producing talented teenagers. Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen was only 18 when she was sought out by Tyreso, a Swedish side doing their best impression of the Galacticos. The club told its players that she had the potential to be one of the best in the world. She’s since won trophies in three different countries, and the Champions League.

Ada Hegerberg, the first ever recipient of the Ballon d'Or Feminin, was 17 when she joined two-time European champions Turbine Potsdam. A year later, she’d sign for Lyon, where she’s gone on to win six of those continental titles herself and become the Champions League's all-time top goal-scorer.

Martin Odegaard may be the most extreme example, becoming Real Madrid’s youngest ever player aged 16 years and 157 days. Today, he’s the captain of an Arsenal team that have led the way for the majority of this season's Premier League title race.

At one point or another, Signe Gaupset has been mentioned in the same breath as all three of those names. These are prodigious footballers who have gone on to achieve incredible things, and many believe that Brann’s 17-year-old midfielder, who was a NXGN 2023 finalist, can follow in their footsteps.

But who is this teenager that has everyone in her homeland so excited? What makes her worth such hype? Let NXGN introduce you to the next wonderkid coming off of Norway’s relentless production line…

  1. Where it all began

    Gaupset was just five years old when she began playing football, influenced by her brother who is two years older and already had a love for the game. “I wanted to be like him,” she tells NXGN. “He let me join his training sessions and then I started playing football with the boys in my class.”

    Soon, she was playing in the boys’ team of a local club, Rival. “That was a really good boys’ team and many of the players there are now at boys' national teams as well,” she notes.

    At 14 years old, Gaupset would join Molde, which is where she was born. She’d play with the women’s team, one of the best in the area, and also with the club’s academy boys’ team, building quite a bit of hype for herself in the process with her performances.

    When she left Molde, she was in high demand - and it was well-documented in the media. “It's cool that so many clubs wanted me, but also it was a bit strange,” she recalls. “I didn't think that it would be so many.”

    After visiting a few, the teenager decided that Sandviken – now rebranded as Brann – was “the right club” for her. “I got a really good first impression of the club and I knew the trainer, Alexander Straus [now of Bayern Munich], a bit from before because he had some training camps with my national team.

    “Their style of playing suits my playing style and I found the club to be really great. I saw a good opportunity to develop in the club. It was actually quite an easy choice for me.”

  2. The big break

    The date was November 5, 2022, and it was Brann vs Stabaek in the Norwegian Cup final. For Brann, having already secured the league title, it was a chance to go one further than 2021 and do the double. After losing the cup final the year prior, they got over the hump in 2022 - and Gaupset was the star of the show.

    With two goals and an assist from the 17-year-old, Brann won 3-1, and she was praised to the high heavens in the aftermath.

    “She was brilliant,” head coach Olli Harder told TV2. “We had many options as to who would start, and she jumped at the chance. It was a fantastic way to end the season for her.”

    “She is a completely unique talent and a wonderful person off the pitch,” full-back Tuva Hansen added. “She works so well. I forget that she is 17 years old, I think she is my age and I am 25. Words cannot describe how good she is.”

    If anyone in Norway didn’t know about this talented teenager before that final, they certainly did after it. It was a game that really started to build the hype outside of her homeland, too.

  3. How it’s going

    Fast-forward a few months and Gaupset promises to be an even more important player for Brann in 2023. On the international stage, meanwhile, she has long been a valuable asset for Norway's Under-17 teams, and she played three games for the U19s at the end of last year, netting twice.

    Of course, there is excitement building about when she will take her first steps outside of Norway, but the teenager is in no rush. Asked if she talks about that with her more experienced team-mates, Gaupset nods. "Something they say - and I think this as well - is that it's not a stress to get out," she explains.

    “I think I have a lot to improve here in Norway and Brann. I want to play here until I really find the right club.”

  4. Biggest strengths

    Gaupset has lots of different strengths. Physically, she has been no doubt aided by so many years playing in the boys’ teams, something she notes herself. “I've been more tough,” she says. “They're faster and everything happens faster. I had to be more awake and prepared for everything. I think that's helped me a lot to get me where I am today.”

    Technically, she has a brilliant shot and is excellent in possession, but it’s her creativity that is her stand-out attribute. That is elevated by her composure, a wonderful understanding of the game and, as team-mates have noted, her maturity.

    It’s clear from talking to Gaupset that she likes to learn from those around her as well, which is a fantastic mentality for a young player to have. “We had a lot of good players last year and also now,” she says. “For example, Lisa Naalsund, who just went to Manchester United, is a really good midfielder who I had a lot to learn from. Tuva Hansen and Guro Bergsvand, who also left last year, are really good players who are playing at the national team and know the standards.

    "Today, Andrine Hegerberg is a really good reference because she has played in many clubs in Europe. She knows the standards and she knows what to do to become a professional footballer. There are many people in the club that I have a lot to learn from and have learned from.”

  5. Room for improvement

    As with most young players, particularly in an attacking sense, the finishing touches simply need to be applied in that final third. Gaupset is heavily involved in a lot of what Brann do, and it’s about turning that into more goals, more assists and more end product – something that often happens over time when you have young players with the talent and desire to learn that the Norwegian does.

    When NXGN asks the midfielder about her short-term goals, after she runs through what she’d like to achieve as a team, adding to those goal contributions is something she mentions herself, too. “That’s my own goal,” she says.

    As for the rest of her game? “With my coaches in Brann, we focus on small details every week and it's different,” Gaupset explains. “It could be my duels or the final pass to create more assists, for example. It's different things every day we are focusing on so I can be a more complete player.”

  6. The next… Norwegian superstar?

    The next… Norwegian superstar?

    Back in her homeland, Gaupset has been compared to those Norwegian superstars who burst onto the scene when they were teenagers – Graham Hansen, Hegerberg and, in the men’s game, Odegaard. She certainly has the potential to have an impact at the highest level like Graham Hansen and Hegerberg have, both of them Champions League winners, but her position is totally different.

    In that sense, the Odegaard comparison is certainly more fitting, although Gaupset herself instead names Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne as someone she looks up to. “I think I see some similarities between him and me,” she says, in an analytical way, rather than with any hint of arrogance. “I really enjoy watching him play football. I think he is a complete player and I almost want to be like him. I think he's so good. That's maybe the player today that I most enjoy watching.”

    In truth, it’s hard to make a direct comparison between Gaupset and another player because her role in the midfield can be fluid. While often being the creative catalyst for her team, it’s not uncommon to see her drop into deeper positions to help control the game, either.

    However, that the Norwegian media are hyping her up in the same way as some of their biggest flag bearers is a sign of the quality she possesses, regardless of how her role in the middle of the park develops over time.

  7. What comes next?

    Given how assured she looks in her play and how important a player she has become for her team, it is easy to forget that 2022 was the first season where Gaupset was so heavily involved for Brann. This year, it’s simply about building on that and adding to the incredible experiences she already has.

    The midfielder made her Champions League debut in qualifying last August, but now she wants to get to the group stages. Brann did the league and cup double in 2022, and Gaupset wants to repeat the trick in 2023.

    Longer term, of course, she wants to play in the senior national team, represent one of Europe’s elite clubs (she was a Real Madrid fan growing up) and win the big trophies. But, as she says, she’s in no rush to get there.

    For now, it’s about continuing to thrive in Norway and prove that she is ready for the next step, whenever that may be.