Martin Odegaard debut: Real Madrid starlet features in 2-2 draw

The youngster was playing his first competitive game for Real Madrid's B team

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The Independent Football

Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard was handed his much-anticipated Real Madrid debut for the Spanish giants’ second team on Sunday.

The 16-year-old forward, wanted by a host of Europe’s top clubs including Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern Munich before his move to the Spanish capital, played 20 minutes for Real Madrid Castilla, coached by club legend Zinedine Zidane, in their 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao B in Spanish football’s third tier.

It was the first competitive outing for Norway’s youngest international since the European champions won the race for his signature and paid Stromsgodset £2.3m for his in-demand services last month. Club president Florentino Perez watched on amongst the 2790 fans inside the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium as his latest star addition got his first taste of action.

He lined-up wearing the No.15 shirt on the right of Castilla’s front three after being named in Zidane’s squad for the first time. When he left the dugout to warm up five minutes into the second half he was handed a big applause from the Madrid fans. Odegaard had not played a competitive fixture since early November when the Norwegian Premier Division was concluded. He will be gradually eased back into first-team action.

The youngster, who has also been training alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in Carlo Ancelotti’s first team, pulled on the famous all-white shirt for the first time in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan at Valdebebas, the club’s training base, last week. He played over 60 minutes alongside his new Castilla team-mates in a 3-3 draw.

Odegaard was also named in Madrid’s 25-man Champions League squad for the knockout stages last week and if he features in either of the last-16 legs against Schalke he will become the youngest player to ever feature in the competition. The record is currently held by former Chelsea player Celestine Babayaro, who featured for Anderlecht against Steaua Bucharest in 1994 aged 16 years and 87 days. The Norwegian has just over a month to etch the Nigerian’s name out of the record books.

A host of records are at his disposal after becoming the youngest player and goalscorer in the Norwegian Premier Division, as well as the youngest player for his country and the youngest to feature in a European Championships qualifier. Time is on his side to also become the youngest goalscorer in the Champions League and the youngest player and scorer for the ten-times European champions.

He will primarily play for Zidane’s Castilla side and try and help them to promotion from Segunda Division B. The result against promotion rivals Athletic B left them second, a point behind leaders Real Union de Irun. Gorka Santamaria fired Athletic ahead in the eighth minute but an own goal from captain Egoitz Magdaleno just two minutes later had the hosts level. Burgui’s deflected goal on the hour mark looked set to put Zidane’s side on course for victory before Santamaria rescued a point for the Basques with ten minutes left.

Castilla visit Amorebieta next weekend and Zidane could hand Odegaard his full debut. Ancelotti will be keeping a close eye on his progress after including him in his European squad.

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