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Odegaard makes history as European qualifying's youngest player at 15

By Chris Murphy, CNN
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Martin Odegaard grabbed another slice of history on Monday, coming on as a substitute during Norway's clash with Bulgaria to become the youngest player ever in European Championships qualifying history at 15 years and 300 days.
Martin Odegaard grabbed another slice of history on Monday, coming on as a substitute during Norway's clash with Bulgaria to become the youngest player ever in European Championships qualifying history at 15 years and 300 days.
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The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
The nurturing of a football prodigy
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Martin Odegaard becomes youngest player in European Championships qualifying
  • The 15-year-old comes on as a substitute in Norway's 2-1 win over Bulgaria
  • Iceland beat Netherlands 2-0 to make it three wins out of three in qualifying
  • Belgium and Bosnia draw 1-1 while there were wins for Italy, Wales and Croatia

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(CNN) -- Few 15-year-olds can claim to make history, but Martin Odegaard is fast accumulating a clutch of firsts in football.

By coming on as a second half substitute in Norway's clash with Bulgaria on Monday, he became the youngest player ever to appear in European Championships qualifying at just 15 years and 300 days.

He is already the youngest player to represent his country -- featuring in a friendly with United Arab Emirates in August -- as well as the youngest player, and scorer, in the country's top league.

And Odegaard didn't look out of place during his 27-minute cameo, as Norway beat Bulgaria 2-1 in its Euro 2016 Group H clash.

Read: European soccer's most coveted 15-year-old

No wonder then, that scouts from clubs all over Europe -- including English Premier League pair Manchester United and Liverpool -- are on the tail of one of the continent's hottest prospects.

"In the beginning it was unreal and a little bit surreal that all these clubs wanted Martin, but it's strange what you can get used to," his father Hans Erik Odegaard told CNN last month. "Almost every top European club has been in touch."

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Ex-Norway international Morten Gamst Pedersen has described Odegaard's potential as "unbelievable," while manager Ronny Deila -- who gave the teen his Stromsgodset debut before joining Scottish club Celtic -- says he can "become the best in the world."

And if the teeanger's ascent in the game carries on at this pace, soon he and his father will have a big decision to make on his future.

"I saw from a very early age that 'he had the feeling,' but I remember very well when I knew he'd be quite good," Odegaard's father, a former footballer at Stromsgodset and Sandefjord, added.

"I was still playing and Martin must have been no more than eight. I was out on the pitch running some intervals. He was, as always, with me. When I was finished I wanted to go home, but we couldn't before he had done 50 more shots (at goal).

"Then I understood he also had a talent for training and that is the most important talent you can have."

It is conceivable Odegaard may get to showcase his talents on one of the biggest soccer stages of all given Norway's impressive start to its Euro 2016 campaign.

That 2-1 victory, earned thanks to goals from Tarik Elyounossi and Havard Nielsen, put Norway third in its group, behind Croatia, who are top, and Italy.

Croatia thrashed Azerbaijan 6-0 while Italy edged past Malta 1-0 thanks to a first senior goal for Graziano Pelle, who plays for Southampton in the English Premier League.

Icelandic inspiration

The biggest shock of the night came in Reykjavik where Iceland made it three wins out of three after beating Netherlands 2-0.

It is the first time in Iceland's history it has won the opening three matches of a qualifying campaign without conceding a goal.

Just like he was in the win over Latvia on Friday, Gylfi Sigurdsson was Iceland's hero, scoring twice in a famous win over a side that finished third at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Sigurdsson, who plays in the English Premier League with Swansea, grabbed his first from the penalty spot after Stefan de Vrij fouled Birkir Bjarnason, firing powerfully past Jasper Cillessen.

Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben had a chance to level matters but he wasted a glorious chance, heading wide from a pinpoint Daley Blind cross.

And he would be made to pay for that miss as Sigurdsson doubled his account with a fierce volley into the roof of the net following a corner.

Netherlands had opportunities in the second half as it pressed to get back in the game but Iceland could have added to its tally on the counter attack.

Iceland, who are managed jointly by former Sweden manager Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrisson, are now six points ahead of Netherlands, who are languishing in third.

The other clashes in Group A saw the Czech Republic triumph 4-2 in Kazakhstan while Latvia and Turkey drew 1-1 in Riga.

Elsewhere, much-fancied Belgium were held to a 1-1 draw with Bosnia in Group B, Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko's opener canceled out by Radja Nainggolan.

That means Wales, led by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, now sit top after it held on with 10-men to beat Cyprus 2-1.

David Cotterill grabbed the first before Bale set up Hal Robson-Kanu for the second. Vincent Laban pulled one back for the visitors but Wales held on in the face of some heavy second half pressure after Andy King was sent off.

Wales has only ever qualified for one major tournament in its history, the World Cup back in 1958. It faces Belgium next.

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