– This has been frustrating. I don’t really understand why I haven’t started the match until now. “I’ll be honest to say that,” King said at a news conference after scoring a hat-trick against Armenia at Ullevaal on Tuesday night.
The last time King started an international match was at home to Northern Ireland on 14 October 2020. Since then, he has been eaten by a number of innings under Lars Lagerbäck and Ståle Solbakken, respectively.
On Tuesday, he got his first chance from the start under Solbakken and responded with three goals and a goalscorer in a 9-0 win against Armenia.
Should King be Norway’s first student in the future?
After the game, King was the only player to speak at the press conference. There he made no secret of the fact that it was difficult to end up in Norway’s shadow.
He stressed that he understands that Solbakken does not have an easy job with many good offensive players to choose from, but said that he still expects more playing time.
– I was surprised that it took so long. But I’ve been patient, and the only thing you can do is appear on the pitch. I feel I showed a lot of good things today, and it’s not easy to be in a meeting and not play. But I have become a professional and am waiting for my chance, he said.
Now King has 20 goals in 59 international games, a figure that says little about the importance the striker has had over a long period of time.
National team manager Ståle Solbakken told NRK he understands that being on the bench for football’s big names can do something about self-respect and satisfaction.
– I think there will always be small changes. You always tickle people’s pride a bit here, but that doesn’t just apply to Joshua, it applies to everyone else he wasn’t allowed to start with. I also think I tickled the pride a little, for example, Morten Thorsby, who didn’t play both games here. So it’s the same for everyone. You have to put out the team that you think is the best. But he had trained well and lined up. And that’s what has to be done. It’s been professional and kind, Solbakken told NRK.
– Everyone should be allowed to be angry
King told the press conference he didn’t know what he could have done differently.
– Everyone should be allowed to get angry if they are not allowed to start. Everyone thinks they have to start, and there are so many good players here that everyone deserves a start, so Ståle doesn’t have an easy job. What have I done five years ago? “I don’t know, but like you said, I’m 30 years old and more mature,” said the Premier League player.
He himself feels that he is not behind anyone in the Norwegian squad, perhaps with one exception:
– I see younger people showing up, but I don’t feel any less “fit” than the others, or anything worse than the others. “Erling may be a little sharper in terms of the X-factor and what he’s achieved in the Champions League and Bundesliga, but we are a good team and are playing well together,” said King.
He said it was very difficult mentally to accept bench life in the national team even when Haaland was injured and inaccessible.
Tough when Erling is hurt
In the decisive match against the Netherlands in the previous qualifier, for example, King came off the bench even though Haaland was sidelined through injury. Then Solbakken put his trust in Alexander Sørloth, Ola Solbakken and Mohamed Elyounoussi in a series of attacks at the expense of King.
– It was difficult when Erling was injured and I still didn’t get a chance. But I gritted my teeth, said King.
Got a penalty kick
In Tuesday’s game, King scored on penalties, but it wasn’t entirely planned. King, who missed the last penalty for Norway, was given the charge as a cue from Erling Braut Haaland.
– No, Erling was generous, Solbakken answered NRK’s question if it was Raja planning to take the penalty kick.
– What do you think about that?
– It’s good, it is. As long as he scores goals. Haha. At least far from desirable, said Solbakken in a clear allusion to last week’s debate over Haaland’s special treatment in the national team.
Haaland now has 15 goals in 17 international games. Jørgen Juve’s record is 33 goals.
– Haaland is on his way to breaking Jørgen Juve’s goalscoring record. What does it tell you that a player chooses to award a penalty at home?
– It shows that he is a team player and he treats Josh for it, answered Solbakken.
The next match for Solbakken’s squad won’t come until June 2. Then Norway started their national league group match against Serbia in Belgrade. Norway is in a group with Serbia, Sweden and Slovenia.
– There are four very important matches in 12 days, so I am looking forward to the meeting. “I’m pretty sure Ståle will rotate a lot in the team because the games are so close,” said King.
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