From a trial at Reading to playing for 7 time European Champions AC Milan, Jens Petter Hauge has enjoyed a whirlwind of a journey.
It was a regular weekday afternoon. Scott Chickelday casually scrolled through his Instagram . There was nothing out of the ordinary. The usual posts and captions blotted his screen full of a myriad of memories and frozen moments in time.
Then a message popped up out of nowhere from a 15 year old boy in Norway named Jens.
‘What do you think of my clips?’
The message was accompanied by a video depicting a show-reel of a blonde haired kid with flair and talent. This kid had a unique ability. Something rare to find in Scott’s profession. Having worked as a coach for decades Scott was instantly awestruck by the kid.
‘I was like wow. This kids unreal and I said to him: why have you sent me this?’
The boy was brunt and straight to the point.
‘I want to come to England. Can you get me a club?’
Scott was a bit reticent.
‘Well maybe I need to speak to your dad first?’
‘I want to prove myself, bring me to England,’ the kid replied.
But Scott insisted.
‘Ultimately I spoke to his dad,’ Scott tells First Time Finish exclusively. ‘And he was like oh I’m sorry Jens is so determined.
In the end I talked to a few clubs and I managed to arrange him a trial.’
And so a young Jens Petter Hauge travelled to England to prove himself.
In a way Jens Petter Hauge was thousands of miles away from home. But in some ways he wasn’t. The perpetually grey clouds of Reading was not too far away from what Jens had accustomed to in Norway.
He settled into the football with ease too.
‘I got him a trial through my friend at Reading Football Club’ Scott recalls how he brought the young Norwegian to the shores of England and the Berkshire city.
‘He came over and he went into their academy and he tore it to pieces. I remember I watched two games and he was absolutely phenomenal.’
Naturally Reading were impressed.
According to sources close to the club they offered Jens Petter Hauge a contract. However Bodo Glimt wanted 10,000 Euros as a compensation. Reading were reluctant to agree.
They offered to include the compensation fee in the contract but Bodo demanded it to be paid upfront.
In the end the two clubs came to a stalemate and Jens Petter Hauge went back to Norway without a deal.
‘When he went back Jens told me: I’m going to stay in Norway. I’m going to get in the first team and someone will buy me from England,’ Scott recalls with a chuckle.
‘That’s how much Jens believed in himself.’
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A golden boy
Bodo Glimt’s determination to keep their young star paid dividends.
A few years later Jens Petter Hauge would make his debut as a 17 year old for Bodo Glimt’s first team.
It was a cup game against IF Foya. Jens played merely 26 minutes but he announced himself with a hat-trick to help Bodo secure a comfortable 6-0 victory.
Despite the remarkable start Jens would take time to settle into life as a professional footballer. Unlike Erling Braut Haaland, Petter Hauge’s progression was more gradual.
In the following two seasons Jens Petter Hauge started just 14 times for Bodo Glimt in the league.
‘He was a player you kind of always felt was “second best” in terms of talents considering he was sort of in the shadow of players like Mathias Normann and Håkon Evjen for the longest time,’ Jonas Giæver a Norwegian football expert recalls.
In 2018 Jens was loaned out to Aelesund.
‘He was loaned out to Aalesund, and even played for their second team on a few occasions which lends a bit of truth to the fairytale he is now living. He played in the fifth tier at times during 2018, which is just mindblowing.’ Jonas recalls.
For a boy who was so determined to achieve his dream and get himself a big move abroad the loan-spell gave Jens Petter Hauge what Jonas calls ‘the reality check.’ It made him realise he needed to work even harder to fulfil his dreams.
Jens came back to Bodo with a fire in his step. Towards the end of 2019 he was able to wrestle himself into the starting line-up and finished the season with 9 goals and 3 assists in total from just 9 starts and 20 substitute appearances.
In 2020 he doubled his starting appearances as well as his goals and assists with 14 goals and 10 assists.
It was the Europa League Qualifiers where Jens Petter Hauge really blossomed into life.
When Bodo Glimt were drawn with AC Milan perhaps not many gave them a whisker of a chance.
But Jens made sure he made the Italian giants sweat. He registered an assist and scored a wordlie from outside the box to make sure AC Milan only went away with an amicable 3-2 victory.
His performance earned him approving handshakes from the AC Milan players. It was reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo in Sporting colours bamboozling Manchester United’s defenders before the Red Devils swooped to take the Portuguese sensation.
‘I remember I texted him,’ Scott recalls. ‘I was like are you going to Milan? And he was like yep I’m going.’
‘The Sky’s the limit,’ Jonas adds. ‘I hope he gets a fair chance over time at AC Milan. As of now, he is part of a very, very special group with the Norwegian national team as well. So, future is looking very bright for Hauge, AC Milan and Norway.’
Sure Milan was not England like Jens Petter Hauge had hoped, but there can be hardly a better compromise than one of the most successful teams in European football history.
Despite having come into a Milan side competing for the Serie A title, he has been given the opportunities. Perhaps even more than one would have expected. And when he has played he has taken his chances.
In 6 starts from 20 appearances, Jens Petter Hauge has scored 4 goals and registered an assist. He has been especially prolific in the Europa League netting against Celtic on two occasions.
‘I thought maybe he would just go into the youth set-up at first, but he’s in the first team and playing regularly now,’ Scott says.
Having made such a big step-up, the 2020-21 season will be a bit of an adjusting period for Jens, but from the flickers and flashes he has shown so far, Milan fans will certainly be pleased.
‘I think he came to England saw the level and went back to Norway determined to come back,’ Scott says.
Jens level of confidence and belief in himself to secure the trial to England and then his ability to bounce back and fight himself into the reckoning at Bodo is demonstrative of the same mettle as his compatriot Erling Braut Haaland.
‘He belongs to a generation of players that seem to be very confident,’ Jonas agrees.
‘He has such a great belief in himself, and he just seems to be so mature about how he goes about his business. At the same time, he has almost a bit of a cocky attitude about him at times, that is a bit reminiscent of Haaland. Perhaps not to the same degree, but it just oozes of him that he believes in himself.’
Like Haaland, Jens Petter Hauge has an aura of invincibility and fearlessness about him. He is made of thick skin and a fighting spirit which is hard to break down.
‘ I still think he will play in England, because of the way he plays, he’s very direct,’ Scott says.
‘I’m confident within 3-4 years someone will pay £50 million for Jens,’ he concludes proudly.
That remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, Norway’s new generation with Hauge and Haaland at the helm can lead to a golden era.
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