'He took extra care of me' - Martin Odegaard explains how Cristiano Ronaldo helped him settle in at Real Madrid
- Odegaard joined Madrid at the age of 16
- Couldn't speak Spanish at the beginning
- Ronaldo, Modric & Kroos helped him settle down
WHAT HAPPENED? Odegaard moved to the Spanish capital at the tender age of 16 from Stromsgodset in his native Norway. When he first arrived at Valdebebas he did not know Spanish but found a few players in the dressing room who could communicate in English like Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Odegaard, now 24 and the skipper of Arsenal, has lauded those three players for being "very kind" while reminiscing about his initial days in Madrid as a teenager.
WHAT THEY SAID: "All I'm thinking is about how these guys will treat me when I walk into their dressing room. This little kid who didn't speak any Spanish," Odegaard told The Players' Tribune.
"But they were all very kind and the ones who spoke English - Kroos, Modric, Ronaldo - took extra care of me in the beginning. They gave me advice and helped me a lot. But, honestly, I don't think any of them were particularly worried about a 16-year-old from Norway taking their place in the team."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Odegaard became the youngest player to debut for Real Madrid at 16 years and 157 days old in May 2016 when he replaced Ronaldo in a 7-3 win over Getafe. However, he failed to find his feet at Madrid and was sent on various loan spells in the Eredivisie and La Liga before joining the Gunners in another temporary deal in January 2021. He started to grow in stature at the Emirates and sealed a permanent move to the London club in the summer of 2021 and has not looked back since then.
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WHAT NEXT FOR ODEGAARD? The midfielder will be in action on Saturday when Arsenal will face Brentford in the Premier League.