April 22, 2024

The new Black Cats defender is already used to playing in front of large crowds.
Leo Hjelde, Sunderland’s new acquisition, understands the pressure of playing for a big club, but he is excited to get started at the Stadium of Light.

The 20-year-old has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract on Wearside after previously playing for Leeds United and Celtic in Scotland. He has only made 33 senior games in his career, which began with Norwegian side Rosenborg before joining Scottish heavyweights Celtic in July 2019.

“It feels great,” he stated about the change. “Obviously, there has been a significant turnaround, so I can’t wait to get started. I was quite excited about Sunderland’s interest. I had to speak with my father as well. He demonstrated the club’s size and huge backing. For me, it was a chance I could not pass up.

“I started at Rosenburg in Norway, then moved on to Celtic, Leeds, and now, of course, here. I am a ball-playing centre-back or left-back with lots of enthusiasm. I enjoy moving over the pitch, but I also enjoy utilizing my skills.

“Having my father also play football made it very easy for me to become acquainted with the sport. However, there is undoubtedly widespread support.


Marco Gabbiadini reacts to Sunderland signing Leo Hjelde - BBC Sport



“Celtic and Leeds have been huge clubs for me, and this one is as well. For me, it was simply dealing with the pressure of being there and having the fan support behind you. The experience has evolved and matured me in a positive way. It’s now just a matter of getting started right away and hoping to gain the support of the supporters. When the opportunity to come here presented itself, I couldn’t turn it down.”

Hjelde, the son of former Nottingham Forest defender Jon Olav Hjelde, was born in Nottingham in August 2003. He stands 6ft 2inches tall and can play at both centre-back and left-back. His youth career began with Norwegian club Trygg/Lade, before he moved to Rosenborg to further his development in the academy.

Celtic approached him in 2019, and he signed his first professional deal at the age of 15. Despite not appearing for Glasgow, he played ten games for Ross County on loan in 2021.

Hjelde’s career took him to South Yorkshire with Leeds United in the summer of the same year, after the club survived its first year in the Premier League. Hjedle went on to make two Premier League appearances, coming on as a second-half replacement against West Ham United and Everton.

Last season, the defender spent the second half of the season on loan at Rotherham United, making 13 appearances. Hjelde faced Sunderland last season while on loan with Rotherham, and he is the third Norwegian recruited by Sunderland, following Tore Andre Flo and Thomas Mhyre.

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