BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - JULY 11: Caroline Graham Hansen of Norway (R) high five her teammate Guro Reiten of Norway (L) during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 group A match between England and Norway at Brighton & Hove Community Stadium on July 11, 2022 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

FIFA Women's World Cup 70-Day Countdown: Day 23 - Caroline Graham Hansen In Focus

Feel the thrill of anticipation as we surge into the third week of our '70-Day Edge of the Crowd' countdown leading up to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. This week, we're cranking up the heat and focusing our unapologetic enthusiasm on seven extraordinary players. These chosen ones, imbued with phenomenal skill and sheer tenacity, are ready to take centre stage and ignite the tournament with their astounding performances.

28-year-old Caroline Graham Hansen, the Norwegian football maestro, has been carving her signature on the international football arena with her dazzling skill set. Her reputation precedes her as a formidable adversary on the wing, a player renowned for her sterling finesse and untamed velocity. She quickly changes direction, leaving opponents in the dust while keeping control of the ball.

More than just a speed demon, Graham Hansen is an accomplished playmaker. Her field vision, coupled with her consummate passing skills, renders her a decisive catalyst in creating scoring opportunities for her team. Her precise crosses into the penalty area or perfectly measured through balls consistently dismantle opposing defences.

Complementing her playmaking prowess is her own goal-scoring aptitude. Her cool, collected demeanour in front of the goal, juxtaposed with her robust and precise shooting, ceaselessly intimidates the opposition.

Despite her impressive credentials, Graham Hansen often gets overlooked in global football circles, making her a diamond in the rough. Her unassuming, reserved nature is often cited as the reason for this.

For instance, her celebration after scoring the first goal in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea was a vivid manifestation of her typical introverted comportment. Similarly, after netting two decisive goals in the Champions League semi-final, propelling Barcelona to the Grand Final, her reticence to celebrate relegated her to the backdrop during the frenzy that followed.

Graham Hansen’s journey to stardom is a testament to her grit and tenacity. Having started her professional career with Stabæk in August 2010 as a 15-year-old, she eventually moved to VfL Wolfsburg, a powerhouse in the Frauen Bundesliga, before landing at one of the top clubs in the world; FC Barcelona in Spain's LIGA F competition. 

At FC Barcelona, her strength and determination shone through as she recovered from a hamstring injury, eventually scoring a hat-trick against Villarreal. Regrettably, another setback, this time a knee injury, impeded her progress. Nonetheless, her indomitable spirit spurred her to make a remarkable recovery, continually performing at an elite level, reinforcing her importance to Barcelona.

Her unwavering commitment to her team is as conspicuous as her talent. With Alexia Putellas, the team’s two-time Ballon d’Or laureate absent, Graham Hansen was the one to fill the void. Despite nursing a knee injury, she was instrumental in sustaining the team’s winning rhythm. Her consistent, stellar performances have been pivotal to Barcelona’s success. Each full season since her inception has seen her contribute a minimum of 10 goals, emerging as one of the top assist providers also.

This season has been no different, as she has been in sensational form. She has made 23 appearances across LIGA F and the UEFA Champions League, scoring 13 goals and laying on eight assists.

Nonetheless, her accomplishments have been met with relative indifference at the Ballon d’Or galas. Her exclusion from the 2022 shortlist, despite being a linchpin in Barcelona’s 2021 historic treble, highlights this discrepancy. Irrespective of this oversight, Graham Hansen’s technical wizardry, inventiveness, and goal-scoring proficiency will be of paramount importance to Norway’s prospects in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Looking ahead to this year's FIFA Women's World Cup, it is inescapable that Graham Hansen is poised to make a significant impact on Norway’s fate. Likely to be a linchpin for coach Hege Riise’s team, her performances will be a testament to her burgeoning reputation as one of the finest footballers globally. This Women's World Cup may be the stage where she casts off the shackles of underrated status, and the world finally acknowledges her true worth.

To get the full experience of Edge of the Crowd's 70-Day Countdown to the FIFA Women's World Cup this July, don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Also don't forget to listen to the Australian World Cup Podcast available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. New episode this week.