On this day in 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired a 30-yard overhead kick over Joe Hart into the England goal. Sweden beat the Three Lions 4-2 in that unforgettable game. The enduring image is of a 'Lion' in yellow arcing an incredible goal over the hapless Hart.
Zlatan ended his career this summer with one of the most decorated CVs of any footballer on the planet. Two Eredivisie titles. Five Serie As. One La Liga. Four Ligue Uns. And they are just the domestic titles. A whole host of other cups and honours decorate his mantlepiece, although remarkably, he went his whole career without ever winning the Champions League.
He’s one of the most iconic players of our generation and has an ego to match. To pay our own respects to Ibrahimovic’s wonderful career, we’ve decided to let him do the talking. Here is his career in quotes.
His famous Arsenal trial…
“Wenger asked me to have a trial with Arsenal when I was 17. I turned it down. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”
He never did play for Arsene Wenger. Instead he made a name for himself at Malmo before joining Ajax.
Dominating former Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz…
While at Ajax, Ibrahimovic came up against Liverpool in a pre-season match. And he made a mockery of one of Liverpool’s centre-backs.
“First I went left, he did too. Then I went right, he did too. Then I went left again, and he went to buy a hot dog.”
When asked about taking criticism from ex-Villa striker John Carew…
“What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”
By 2002, Zlatan had gone full Zlatan. And strangely got into a bit of beef with John Carew.
“I can play in the 11 positions because a good player can play anywhere.”
We never did see him at left-back though.
“I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am...”
The Pep years…
Ibrahimovic had become a megastar at Juventus and Inter Milan before teaming up with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. It was a match made in hell and the relationship ended after just one season. He did produce a couple of his finer quotes about one of the greatest managers of all time however.
“[Pep] Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought 'there is my enemy, scratching his bald head!'. I yelled to him: 'You have no balls!' and probably worse things than that.”
“Then Guardiola started his philosopher thing. I was barely listening. Why would I? It was advanced bullshit about blood, sweat and tears, that kind of stuff.”
House-hunting in the French capital…
"We are looking for an apartment in Paris, if we do not find anything, then we will just buy a hotel."
He would become an icon in Paris, as PSG welcomed him with open arms.
An empty-handed wife…
”Nothing, she already has Zlatan.”
That was Ibrahimovic’s response when asked what he had got his wife for her birthday.
The 2014 World Cup…
“One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch.”
Sweden lost their World Cup play-off to Portugal in 2014, but it didn’t seem to bother Ibra.
Ici C'est Paris…
“I came like a hero, left like a legend.”
The centre-forward’s modest take on departing the French capital in 2016.
“Lions don’t recover like humans.”
Age began to catch up with Zlatan but he showed incredible powers of recovery to get back playing seven months after a knee ligament injury.
*18+ | BeGambleAware