Zlatan Ibrahimovic Profile
|Born||Oct 03, 1981|
One of the greatest strikers of the modern era, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is known as much for his personality off the pitch as he is for his significant playing achievements on it.
Ibrahimovic is a Swedish striker currently plays for Serie A club AC Milan. Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers of all time, Ibrahimovic has won 34 major trophies in a career spanning across four different decades, which has seen more than 550 goals netted in Italy, England, France, Spain, Netherlands and Sweden.
After initially beginning his career at Malmo, he joined Ajax two seasons later before grabbing the attention of Juventus. He was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2013 and has been selected in the UEFA Team of the Year on four occasions (2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014). UEFA rated him above Brazilian Ronaldo as the greatest player to have never won the UEFA Champions League.
Ibrahimovic is also seen as one of Sweden’s greatest exports alongside Bjorn Borg and ABBA and in 2019, a statue was unveiled in honour of his achievements in his hometown. The statue stands at nearly 9ft and weighs more than half a tonne.
Ibrahimovic is quick to remind people of his greatness on the pitch. "Lions do not compare themselves to humans," Ibra stated after recovering from a potential career-ending injury. Introducing himself on arrival at Paris Saint-Germain, Ibrahimovic admitted he did not know the majority of the players at the club. "It's true I don't know much about the players here, but they definitely know who I am.” Ibrahimovic added: "We're looking for an apartment. If we don't find anything, then I'll probably just buy the hotel."
Coming to MLS with LA Galaxy
After being released from Manchester United and left to recover from a long-term injury, Ibrahimovic confirmed he would be joining LA Galaxy in March 2018. He announced his move by writing in the LA Times, "Dear Los Angeles, you're welcome." It would be a much-welcomed debut for Ibrahimovic, who came off the bench to bag a brace in the inaugural 'El Trafico' derby against Los Angeles FC.
Ibrahimovic scored his 500th senior goal against Toronto FC in 2019, a club to which he referred as his "500th victim". His debut season saw him named in the MLS Team of the Year, while he also won MLS Goal of the Year and MLS Newcomer of the Year. Ibrahimovic was in competition with former striking partner Wayne Rooney, who had joined DC United in 2018 from Everton.
In 2019, Ibrahimovic was named club captain for the Galaxy. The most famous storyline of the season was his competition with LAFC's Carlos Vela who ended up scoring 34 goals in 31 games, breaking the record of 31 set by Josef Martinez in 2018. With the debate between Ibra and Vela at its peak going into the Los Angeles derby, the Swede bagged a hat-trick to fire LA Galaxy into the 2019 MLS Cup play-offs.
Speaking about Vela, he said: "I have a lot of respect for Vela, he's a good player, but you did one mistake, you [the media] compared him with me, that was your biggest mistake. I have my confidence and I believe in myself. People call it arrogant, I call it confidence. Ignorant people call it arrogant, intelligent people call it confidence. I have a bulletproof mind. When I go out there, I know what I'm able to prove - and I do it good."
The Swede announced his departure from the side in November 2019.
Becoming a legend at other clubs
Following his time at Ajax and Juventus, Ibrahimovic moved to Inter Milan and enjoyed two trophy-laden seasons at San Siro. It was his second campaign under Jose Mourinho where he attracted interest from clubs around the world after scoring 25 league goals, which helped Inter win Serie A. Despite a strong relationship with Mourinho, Ibrahimovic left in 2009 to join Barcelona with Samuel Eto'o going the other way.
The spell would turn sour after falling out with Pep Guardiola. In his autobiography, I am Zlatan, Ibrahimovic spoke about the turn of events which saw him out of favour with Guardiola at Camp Nou: "It started well but then Messi started to talk," he wrote. "He wanted to play in the middle, not on the wing, so the system changed from 4-3-3 to 4-5-1. I was sacrificed and no longer had the freedom on the pitch I need to succeed."
Ibrahimovic joined AC Milan on loan in 2010/11 before moving in a permanent deal the following season. In his first spell at the club, he guided the club to the league title and Supercoppa Italia. It was his sixth Serie A medal having won three at Inter and two at Juve, although his wins at the latter were revoked by Calciopoli.
In 2019, Ibrahimovic returned on an initial six-month deal with a potential 12-month extension added in the contract. After proving his worth with 10 goals in 18 league appearances, Milan extended his stay.
In 2020, Ibrahimovic's two goals against Inter made him the oldest player to score in the Derby della Madonnina at the age of 39. It was his first game after recovering from COVID-19, which saw him miss three fixtures.
The following season, the Swede came back to haunt Inter as his three-minute brace earned AC Milan a 2-1 win early in the season. As his side climbed to the top of the table in January 2021, Ibra was on an incredible run which saw him score in nine consecutive appearances.
The striker scored his 500th and 501st club career goals in a 4-0 win over Crotone on February 7, 2021. But despite his goals, AC Milan failed to stay top of the league and ended up finishing the season in second.
Ibrahimovic was struggling with injuries during the off-season, but came back in style as he scored in a 2-0 win over Lazio - a goal which made him the oldest non-Italian player to score a goal in the 123-year history of the Serie A. He was 39 years and 344 days old at the time.
Another big record fell in November 2021 as Ibrahimovic scored two goals in a 4-3 defeat to Fiorentina, becoming the oldest player in Serie A history to score a brace. What's more, he also became the first 40-year-old to do so in Europe's top five leagues in the 21st Century.
The Swede went on to cross the 300 goal mark across Europe's top five leagues - becoming the third person to achieve this in the 21st Century, just behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
AC Milan went on to win the title in the 2021/22 season - their first Serie A win in 11 years. Ibrahimovic contributed eight goals and three assists during the season. He also dedicated the title win to his agent Mino Raiola who passed away a month prior.
The forward also played four seasons for Paris-Saint Germain and won three league titles, two domestic trophies and three Super Cups. In 2015/16, he scored the most goals in Ligue 1 history with 38 - the previous record being 37 by Carlos Bianchi in 1977/78.
Ibrahimovic is the second highest goalscorer in the club's history with 156, with former striking partner Edinson Cavani scoring 200 goals. However, the South American played 301 games compared to Ibrahimovic’s 180.
A reunion between Ibrahimovic and Mourinho happened in 2016/17 when he left PSG on a free transfer to join the Portuguese coach at Old Trafford. During his time at Manchester United, he won the EFL Cup and UEFA Europa League. He notched an impressive 28 goals in his debut season, becoming the oldest player to score 15 or more goals in a Premier League season.
His second year was blighted by a career-threatening injury which saw him make just seven appearances.
Ibra's international career
Eligible for Sweden, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia, Ibrahimovic chose to represent the Sweden national team.
Ibrahimovic has been part of various FIFA World Cup tournaments and UEFA European Championships. He was named in the Euro 2012 Team of the Year for his goals against France and Ukraine, despite the country being knocked out in the group stages of the event.
The only Swedish player to score in three consecutive UEFA European Championships, with goals in 2004, 2008 and 2012, Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from international soccer in June 2016 following a barren spell at Euro 2016 that saw Sweden eliminated at the group stage.
He returned to the fold in 2021, at the age of 39, assisting Ludwig Augustinsson in a 3-0 win over Kosovo.
However, plans to appear in a fifth successive European Championship were shelved when he sustained an injury just days prior to the 2020 squad being announced.
Nevertheless, Ibrahimovic remains Sweden's all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals in 118 games and remains just the second male player to earn 100 or more caps.
Zlatan's famous quotes
On his time at Barcelona under Guardiola: "When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari. If you drive a Ferrari you put premium petrol in the tank, you hit the motorway and you step on the gas. [Pep] Guardiola filled up with diesel and took a spin in the countryside. He should have bought a Fiat."
David Beckham's music taste: "We were looking through his playlist in the dressing room - there was lots of Justin Bieber, Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez. It is nice to know that even David Beckham doesn't have good taste in everything."
Rumours of Rooney leaving Man United: "If [Wayne Rooney] still wants to move next summer, or in January, I would urge him to come and play with me in Paris... If he did join, he would have to get used to the fact that Zlatan scores even better goals than him."
His relationship with Mourinho: "[Jose] Mourinho is Guardiola's opposite. If Mourinho brightens up the room, Guardiola pulls down the curtains and I guessed that Guardiola now tried to measure himself with him."
Responding to Eric Cantona calling him the Prince of Manchester: "I won't be the King of Manchester, I will be the God of Manchester."
Born to a Catholic mother from Croatia and Bosnian Muslim father, his parents met for the first time in Sweden after both emigrating from Yugoslavia. Ibrahimovic has confessed himself as a Catholic.
Zlatan is married to Helena Seger and the pair have been together for 18 years. Together, they have two children named Maximilian and Vincent. Italian presenter Diletta Leotta was forced to deny allegations of an affair with Ibrahimovic after they were spotted together in a restaurant. The pair had shot a commercial together during lockdown, which led to the false reports.
Ibrahimovic was given a statue in honour of his achievements outside Malmo's soccer stadium. It has since been vandalised however, after it emerged Ibrahimovic had investments with rivals Hammarby. Graffiti and white paint have been added, while a toe and ankles have been sawn off since the revelation.
In 2015, Ibrahimovic scored and raised awareness by taking his top off with 50 removable tattoo names of 50 children suffering from hunger around the world.
Ibrahimovic has more than 46 million followers on Instagram - the most for a person from Sweden and for AC Milan with Lucas Paqueta at second, who has more than 3.7 million.
Outside of soccer, Ibrahimovic has featured in several documentaries, including Becoming Zlatan - a film which follows his time from Malmo to Juventus.
A film based on his life, I Am Zlatan, was due for release in September 2021.