STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Manchester United legend David Beckham sent a video message to Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the awards ceremony for the Golden ball. The Englishman said, “Zlatan is a player who has class, who always wants to win, and proved that at PSG. He was one of those players that it didn't matter if we were playing in an important game or on the training field, he wanted to win. If he wasn't winning, he was like one of my children.
“His passion, his love for the game has not changed, he's still one of the greatest players to have played the game, and I am happy now he is playing for Manchester United.”
A statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be erected outside the Friends Arena in Stockholm, the Swedish FA (SvFF) announced on Monday as the giant striker won the Golden Ball award for the country's best male player for the 10th year in a row.
The 36-year-old Manchester United forward, who retired from international football after Euro 2016, played 114 games and scored 62 goals for Sweden, including a spectacular four-goal salvo against England in the first game at the arena in 2012.
Ibra has now won the Golden Ball a record 11 times - since its inception in 1946 no other player has won the award more than twice - and his contribution to the game will be honoured with a 2.7 metre statue outside the Friends stadium.
"It feels unreal. Many are thinking 'Why him?' and so on, but after all the hard work over 15 years in the national team and 20 years in my club career, it feels like it's being appreciated," Ibrahimovic said as he accepted his award.
"You usually get this after you die, but I still feel alive. When I die, this (statue) will live on forever."
The Diamond Ball for the best female player went to 33-year-old Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who won the award for the second year running thanks to her key role in Sweden's silver medal-winning team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
(Writing by Phil O'Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)