Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg returned to the Norway squad for the first time in nearly five years on Thursday, handing a huge boost to the team ahead of this year's European Championship.
Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or in 2018, quit the national team in 2017 because of a dispute with the Norwegian Football Federation over the treatment of women's soccer in the country. The federation's attempts to break the impasse failed.
Hegerberg missed the 2019 World Cup where Norway were knocked out by England in the quarterfinals. She will return to the team after being included in coach Martin Sjögren's squad for the 2023 World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Poland next month.
"It feels incredibly good to be back," Hegerberg said in a video message. "I will do my part to help us achieve great things, both on and off the field — for football, for Norway, but not least for the next generation."
— Ada S Hegerberg (@AdaStolsmo) March 24, 2022
Hegerberg holds the record for the most goals scored in a Champions League season with a tally of 15. The 26-year-old is seeking to return to her best form following a long-term knee injury she picked up in January 2020. Coach Sjögren described Hegerberg as "one of the world's best strikers."
"It's a position where we have lost some players and she will be a very good addition to the squad we have," Sjögren said.
"For the most part, we have talked about how we see the future together, and not what has happened in the past," he added. "It was mostly to do with Ada's role and how we can make the team even better. The conversations have been very good."
Norway, who have qualified for the 2023 World Cup, top Group F on 16 points after six games. The 2022 Euros will be held in England in July, with Norway set to face Northern Ireland, England and Austria in the group stage.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak and Philip O'Connor; Editing by William Mallard and Toby Chopra)