13 fun facts about Alexander Isak

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Alexander Isak
Everything you need to know about Sweden sensation Alexander Isak!

Alexander Isak is a Swedish professional football player who currently plays as a striker for Newcastle United in the Premier League and the Sweden national team. He was born on September 21, 1999, in Solna, Sweden, and has emerged as one of the most promising young strikers in the world in recent times.

Isak began his football career at the AIK Solna junior system, where he swiftly climbed up the ranks to make his senior debut in 2016 at the age of just 16. His outstanding performances piqued the interest of scouts from all across Europe, and he was soon snapped up by Borussia Dortmund in January 2017 for a fee in the region of €9m.

Despite his tender age and lack of experience, Isak was immediately thrust into the first team at Dortmund and made his first-team debut two months later, aged just 17.

However, he found playing time hard to come by in Germany, and was limited to just 13 appearances for the Bundesliga club in his debut season, scoring one goal in the process.

Isak was loaned out to Dutch club Willem II for the 2017-18 season in a bid to gain vital first-team minutes. This was a turning point in his career since he was given regular playing time and was able to showcase his talent on a consistent basis. He featured in 18 games for the club, scoring 13 goals and delivering three assists.

Following his successful loan spell in the Netherlands, Isak returned to Dortmund, but struggled to make an impact at the club once again and joined Spanish side Real Sociedad on a permanent transfer in 2019 for a fee that eventually rose to around €10m.

Isak excelled in the Basque country, and scored 44 goals from 132 appearances across all competitions for Real Sociedad, playing a part in La Real's remarkable 2020 Copa del Rey triumph as they ended a 34-year trophy drought.

His talent, and high-potential prompted nouve-riche Newcastle United to break the bank in order to bring the Swedish striker to St. James' Park last summer in a club-record deal worth over €70m including add-ons.

While he has an injury-riddled start to his Newcastle career, the Swede has already shown flashes of his talent and goal-scoring prowess, and will have a major role to play in the second half of Newcastle's exciting season as they aim for Champions League qualification this season.

He has also established himself as a key player for Sweden and has shown that he has the potential to take the baton from icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Sweden's new poster boy in the coming years.

But what are the 13 things you absolutely need to know about the Newcastle speedster?

  1. Moulded in Sweden, but steeped in Eritrean culture

    While Isak was born in Solna, Sweden, he is of Eritrean origin, the country his parents fled because of a long civil war, and seeking better opportunities for their children.

    Although he grew up as a Swede, the striker has always been loyal to his Eritrean culture. He remains closely attached to his roots and currently collaborates in several soccer projects for children in the capital Asmara. In 2018, Isak even himself travelled to East Africa to explore Eritrea.

    Furthermore, Isak has been involved in various charitable activities and has supported organizations that work with disadvantaged children and youth.

    In 2020, Isak donated his jersey and boots to an auction to raise funds for a Swedish organization called "Min Stora Dag" (My Big Day), which helps children with serious illnesses or disabilities fulfil their dreams and wishes.

    Isak's donation garnered over 18,000 euros for the noble cause.

  2. Nicknamed 'The New Zlatan' and 'Giraffe' 🦒

    Isak was likened to Ibrahimović when he burst onto the scene with AIK as a 16-year-old.

    Their playing styles, demeanour, and personalities differ, but Isak is tall and Swedish, so the comparisons were inevitable. There was also something similar in the combination of graceful athleticism and raw power between the two.

    The 6ft 2in striker also earned the nickname 'Giraffe', coined by former teammates due to his slim build and long neck.

  3. The youngest Swedish national team goalscorer in history

    The youngest Swedish national team goalscorer in history

    His record-breaking spell didn’t stop there. In January 2017, Isak was called up to the Sweden first-team squad for two friendly fixtures. After making his debut off the bench against the Ivory Coast, he was handed his first start against Slovakia four days later, scoring the first goal in Sweden's comprehensive 6-0 victory.

    Isak became the youngest goalscorer in his country's history aged 17 years, three months, and 22 days old, and smashed a 105-year-old record in the process.

  4. The Next Thierry Henry?

    Every athlete has an inspiration and somebody that they look up to, and Isak is no different. In an interview with Min Stora Dag, Isak admitted his childhood footballing idol was none other than Gunners legend Thierry Henry.

    Standing tall at 6ft 4in, Isak's style of play is also deemed to have a lot of similarities with the Arsenal great.

    With a tall, slender figure and a devastating combination of technical brilliance and free-flowing quick feet, both can be dangerous from open play build-ups, as well as in the box and love to find the back of the net.

    Like Henry, he’s got a bit of everything.

    The youngster is an instinctive finisher, strong dribbler, and a cool customer in front of goal. He has poacher instincts, and the ability to latch onto passes, slalom his way past opponents and then nonchalantly fire beyond the keeper.

  5.  Youngest debutant goalscorer in Swedish top-tier
    Getty Images

    Youngest debutant goalscorer in Swedish top-tier

    Isak made his professional debut for AIK on February 28, 2016, in a match against Östersunds FK, at the age of 16 years and 199 days. This made him the youngest player ever to feature in an Allsvenskan match.

    In fact, Isak's performance in his debut match was impressive, as he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 win for AIK, which made him the youngest debutant goalscorer in the league's history.

    This was a remarkable achievement for such a young player and helped to establish his reputation as one of the most coveted talents in Swedish football back then.

  6. Turned down Real Madrid before signing for Dortmund

    Turned down Real Madrid before signing for Dortmund

    Isak was courted by a host of top European clubs and reportedly turned down Real Madrid before putting pen to paper on a deal with Borussia Dortmund.

    The Spanish giants offered to pay €8m for Isak's services back in January 2016 - a move which would have smashed the record for the most expensive transfer in Swedish football history, surpassing Ibrahimovic's move to Ajax in 2001.

    It looked like the striker was set to sign a five-year contract at Madrid, but Isak opted to move to Dortmund owing to their reputation for developing young talent, while they also promised a clear pathway to the first-team.

    Things didn't work out for him at the Westfalenstadion, though, as he fell out-of-favour under then-boss Thomas Tuchel, who later revealed he had no say in the wonderkid's transfer.

  7. Scored three penalties in one game! 😲

    Scored three penalties in one game! 😲

    Isak's career defining loan spell at Willem II showcased his true talents, and the immense potential. There was ample pressure on the then-19-year-old to hit the ground running after failing to make his mark at Dortmund, and he went on an impressive scoring run, scoring 14 goals in just 15 starts.

    And he broke some records along the way. He displayed his ice-cool composure from 12 yards by becoming the first player ever to score three penalties in an Eredivisie match, in a 3–2 victory over Fortuna Sittard, while he scored 12 goals in as many Eredivisie games, becoming the first foreign-born player to do so.

  8. Music is his thing! 🎧

    Isak is not only a talented footballer, but has also got an exquisite taste in music. His love for music is evident in his listening habits, as he was once spotted rapping on the bench whilst plying his trade for Sociedad.

    In an interview with LaLiga, Isak mentioned that he likes to listen to music before games as part of his pre-match ritual to get himself in the zone. He also explained that music helps him get in a good mood and stay motivated on the pitch.

    He said: "I like to listen to music before the games, it's part of my ritual. I try to get in a good mood before the game, and music helps me with that.

    "It's important to feel motivated and confident on the pitch, and music can help with that too."

  9. Sparkled at Euro 2020 ✨
    Getty Images

    Sparkled at Euro 2020 ✨

    The talented Swedish striker first truly captured the attention of the wider world with his performances at Euro 2020, picking up assists against Poland and Ukraine and passing the eye test with his speed, dribbling ability and desire to shoot on sight.

    During the Euros, BBC pundit and former England striker Gary Lineker was full of praise for Isak, tweeting: "I do not think there is any doubt that Alexander Isak will attract interest from clubs around Europe. Exceptional talent."

    He was right. Isak's performances at Euro 2020 cemented his status as one of the most exciting young talents in European football, and he is widely regarded as one of the future stars of the game.

    The following year Arsenal came knocking on Isak's door, but to no avail as La Real demanded a premium price for their prized asset.

  10. A footballing Unicorn 🦄

    Isak has regularly been spoken about as a footballing unicorn owing to his unique set of physical attributes.

    For a player his height, Isak is exceptionally mobile, and has plenty of technical ability. He's quick across the ground, and an excellent ball carrier, which places him into a rare breed of tall players blessed with skills often seen in players of much smaller size.

    Not only is he good at putting away the chances on his place, he is capable of creating his own opportunities to pull the trigger. He is equally adept of playing as a target man or as a marksman running in behind the opposition defence. Hence, justifying the footballing unicorn tag bestowed on him by various media outlets.

  11.  Youngest player to score in five consecutive La Liga games
    Getty Images

    Youngest player to score in five consecutive La Liga games

    Isak is the youngest player to score in five consecutive La Liga games in the 21st century, doing so at the age of 21 years and 146 days - 75 days younger than Sergio 'Kun' Aguero (21 years 221 days) and 85 days younger than Antonio Sanabria (21 years 231 days).

    Other LaLiga legends took even more time to achieve the feat.

    Samuel Eto’o did it aged 22 years and 62 days, while Gonzalo Higuain did it at the age of 22 years and 115 days, both of whom were regarded as elite-level strikers.

    Isak's success at such a young age is a testament to his talent and potential as a footballer.

  12. Once destroyed Real Madrid single-handedly! 🔥

    Isak spent three seasons at Real Sociedad and the first two were spectacular enough to attract attention of top clubs, as he scored 16 goals in his first season when he was still only 19 and he got 17 the following season.

    His greatest performance came in a Copa del Rey encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2020 when he scored twice, was denied a third by a VAR offside call, and provided a third in a 4-3 win as he completely annihilated Real Madrid. He looked a tremendous prospect, and his menacing pace in behind wreak the havoc on the day.

    That coming-of-age performance that earned him the adulation of the Sociedad faithful. More joy would follow as he collected his first piece of silverware in his debut campaign at the expense of Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao, who Sociedad defeated in the Copa del Rey final 1-0.

  13. An Adidas-sponsored player 👟

    In addition to being a fashion enthusiast, Isak is also an ambassador for Adidas, and has collaborated with the brand on several projects, including the launch of his own signature boot, the Adidas Nemeziz Alexander Isak.

    He has also been featured in Adidas' advertising campaigns, including the 'Impossible Is Nothing' campaign in 2021.

    The campaign featured Isak alongside other Adidas ambassadors such as Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba, and highlighted the athletes' journeys to success and overcoming adversity.

    Adidas' partnership with Isak allows them to tap into his marketability and influence among Swedish fans.