Thorstvedt, a former international goalkeeper for Norway who represented Tottenham Hotspur in the 1980s and 90s, used to live in the same neighborhood as Haaland. His son would even play against a team in which the Borussia Dortmund striker is one of the best strikers in European football.
“There was that one game in Norway where he scored four goals in 20 minutes. And then everyone said, ‘Oops, what’s going on here?'” Thorstvedt told CNN Sport.
At the age of 20, Haaland had already written his name in the record books of football.
He has scored 20 Champions League goals in 14 games – faster than any other player has reached that mark – and is also the first teenager to score in his first five Champions League games.
In the German Bundesliga he was the first to score 25 goals in his first 25 games and scored a hat trick in 19 minutes and 48 seconds on his league debut.
His chances of scoring are so great that some have led him to reach the same heights as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But Thorstvedt, who has turned to broadcasting and the pandemic in Norway since retiring from football, believes such comparisons put Haaland under undue pressure.
“If you look back in 15 years, he will have broken a lot of records and scored a lot of goals and will be recognized as a really great player,” said Thorstvedt.
“But I don’t think we should put him on the Ronaldo and Messi platform, at least not yet. Let’s take that as a pleasant surprise if that happens.”
Haaland is 6 feet 4 inches tall and makes an impressive figure on Dortmund’s frontline. He complements his strength and size with blazing speed and ruthless finish.
But Thorstvedt explains that this wasn’t always the case.
“Now he’s massive, almost like a monster on the field, but he wasn’t like that before, and I think that was actually an advantage for him because he had to work harder,” says Thorstvedt.
“When you dominate physically, it is easy for you. It may also be easy to get a little lazy.
“When he started growing and becoming this monster for who he is, it was obviously just an added value over everything else.”
It is no coincidence that Haaland had so much success so early in his career.
“He’s a very intelligent player because he’s rarely offside and his runs go very, very well,” said Thorstvedt, adding that Haaland’s speed helps him get behind the defensive lines so often.
“If he turns on the turbo button, the ridiculous button, and just picks it up … it’s so incredibly fast for such a tall person … you think it’s just brute force, but it’s not. I mean, he has these nifty little touches. “
Dortmund will face Manchester City in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.
The German team has to overcome a 2-1 deficit from the preliminary round in order to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2013.
With Dortmund currently fifth in the Bundesliga and six points behind fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, it is a clear possibility not to qualify for the Champions League next year.
This could lead Haaland to seek a transfer to continue playing in Europe’s main competition, and Thorstvedt highlights Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United as potential clubs the striker could represent next season.
“I don’t think there are really that many teams who could say, ‘Well, he’s not for us,'” says Thorstvedt.
“If you let him play every game throughout the season, he’ll score a lot of goals. Definitely.”