'Mentally broken' by the treatment of women's football, Ada Hegerberg savors 'joyful' return to Norwegian national team

    Ada Hegerberg helped Lyon win five consecutive Champions League titles.

    (CNN)It was windy and it was snowing. "A very classical Norwegian evening," as Ada Hegerberg puts it.

    Despite the inclement weather conditions at the Release Arena in Sandefjord, the Norwegian's overriding emotion was one of joy.
    She was playing her first match for Norway in five years, celebrating the occasion with a hat-trick as her team hammered Kosovo 5-1 in the Women's World Cup qualifying last month.
    "The crowd came, they came to support it, which I find amazing, Hegeberg tells CNN's Christina MacFarlane.
      "Obviously I'm very focused before games and everything, but seeing the national team again and seeing all these young girls, young boys showing up to watch us play was something that hit me deep in. And it was just a joyful feeling. I'm going to cherish that for a very long time."
        Five years ago, Hegerberg -- then aged 21 -- stepped away from the national team after her experiences with the side left her "mentally broken" and frustrated with the way women's football was regarded in Norway.
        "I can clearly say that I never hope it happens to another player again, that you should be put in a position where you need to make a choice like that," she says following her return to the side.
        "But at the moment, I would never forget it. I think we should embrace the whole history. But at the same time, I've kind of moved on as well."
          Hegerberg celebrates after scoring the first goal of her hattrick against Kosovo.
          During her absence from the national team, Hegerberg established herself as one of the best players in the world. She holds the record for the most goals scored in the Champions League with 56 and was awarded the first-ever Ballon d'Or Feminin in 2018.
          As well as these individual accolades, Hegerberg achieved great success with Lyon, guiding the club to five consecutive Champions League titles -- a record for a team of any gender. On Saturday in Turin, Lyon face Barcelona in this season's Champions League final.

          'A new chapter'

          Despite these accomplishments, Hegerberg remained outside the international arena, steadfastly maintaining her stance against the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF).
          The 2019 Women's World Cup did not tempt her back into the national setup, and Hegerberg says it was only the recent election of Lise Klaveness as president of the NFF -- the first woman to hold that position -- that convinced her to return.
          The pair played together when Hegerberg was at the start of her career, and she says discussions with Klaveness were central to her return to the national team. They connected over their shared difficulties with the federation, and the challenges facing women's football.
          "I felt like I was growing a lot during those talks, but I felt that it was the right time to go back and play for my country again," Hegerberg says.
          "I really believe that Lise can be a very important figure and position to kind of shake up things still so that young girls can be taken better care of for the future. I would absolutely back her all the way in order to drive women's football into the right direction. So it feels very good."
          Lise Klaveness hit the headlines in March when she condemned the decision to allow Qatar to host the World Cup.