I am Zlatan!
The name’s Zlatan, Zlatan Ibrahimovich.
After scoring a stunner of a goal against England at Stockholm, an overhead kick from 35 yards out, ‘Ibra’ has proved that goal scoring is an art, and the giant Swede is an artist of the game.
Though the goal reminded fans of some great finishes in Ibrahimovich’s career, most notably his ‘Kung Fu’ style backheeled goal against Italy in Euro 2004, it may be too early to place ‘Ibra’ in the pantheon of modern footballing greats, just on the basis of one spectacular attempt.
Now Ibrahimovich is no ordinary player and there is enough proof of his talent, as his impressive resume of nine league titles in four different countries show, he still cannot be compared to say a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of pure talent.
Ibrahimovich, for all his talent on the field, also has a knack of grabbing headlines and being in the spotlight, as was evident during his time at Barcelona.
Ibrahimovich, initially a big money signing for the Catalan giants (50 million pounds!), turned into a forlorn figure during his time at the Nou Camp,with few first team appearances and even fewer goals.
The Swede fell out with then Barca coach, Pep Guardiola, as he made a hasty exit from the La liga to the Serie A (on loan to AC Milan), after just one season (Barca won the league that season!).
A ‘disgusted’ Zlatan later hit out on Guardiola and Barca’s ‘school boy’ footballing system in his bio ‘I am Zlatan’, and revealed his ‘unhappy’ days at the Catalan club.
Ibrahimovich has a great history of doing things his ‘own way’, and the most hilarious incident must definitely be the one during his time at Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam, when a young Ibra impersonated a police officer and attempted to arrest a man in search of ‘business’ in Amsterdam’s famous red light district.
Another incident was during his time with AC Milan, when in a moment of madness he kicked team mate Rodney Strasser in the back for no apparent reason, during a training ground session.
His run ins with Guardiola made for good headlines, as both had personalities as different as chalk and cheese.
The fiery Swede and the calm Spaniard could never get along, as Ibra called Guardiola a ‘philosopher without balls’ and many other unmentionables, while the former Barca coach admitted to having heaved a sigh of relief after loaning the Swede off to Milan.
Ibrahimovich’s other notable quotes include letting former Aston Villa striker, John Carew know that he can play better football than the Norweigian with an ‘orange’ and telling reporters that he plays football ‘Zlatan style’.
Love or hate him, Ibrahimovich is a player who just cannot be ignored for all his talents on the football pitch (ask Joe Hart!) and his larger than life persona.
And the man who once turned down an ‘audition’ at Arsenal, also holds a black belt in Taekwondo!