It is very difficult to find a single phrase or sentence that describes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, regardless whether we speak of his style of play, of his personal characteristics, simply because he is the kind of person who escapes every definition. In a world where all players look and play in a similar fashion and even sound the same in statements and interviews, Ibracadabra is a breath of fresh air. You can love him or hate him, but you surely can’t stay indifferent.
An Undisputed Wonder Man
Ibrahimovic has won a staggering amount of 32 trophies in his career, which ranks him second of all active players, that’s a truly magnificent accomplishment. He has played in four of the top five European leagues, with the only exception being the German Bundesliga. He has also played in his native Sweden and in the Netherlands, and the list is still open, as nobody knows when Zlatan will decide to hang his booths. And it’s not just high-quality leagues, Ibrahimovic has worn the shirt of some of the most successful clubs in their respective leagues and internationally, including Ajax, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Paris Saint Germaine and Manchester United.
Unique Style of Play
You won’t find many players at 1.95m (6’5”) who have Zlatan’s pace, technique and skills. His size allows him to be dominant in air and makes him a lot more stable. He has been compared to some famous strikers from the past, but it is probably fairer to say that strikers in the future will be compared to Zlatan. In an age when many managers prefer a formation with no standard strikers (most cases a false 9), Ibra is there to remind us how deadly an old-fashioned, fox in the box striker can be.
His vision, finishing and the ability to play with his back towards the goal have been praised by numerous pundits and commentators and all players who have had the chance to play alongside Zlatan have pointed out that he is a truly remarkable player, a real gem. Ibra has scored more than 400 goals throughout his career, but the count is still open. Scoring goals is not the only thing he’s good at. A great dribbler, he is always used by his managers to retain possession in the late stages of a game, when his team is leading.
Ibrahimovic started his senior career in Malmö, in his home town of the same name and two years after he made his first appearance for the senior squad, he was sold to Ajax and in 2004, and he won 2 titles in the Dutch league, 1 Cup title and 2 Super Cups. Subsequently, he was sold to Juventus, following an incident at an international match. In 2006, following the Calciopoli affair, he made a move to Internazionale, a club he supported as a child.
With Inter Ibra won 3 titles in a row in 2007, 2008 and 2009, as well as four Italian Super Cups. Ibrahimovic was the top scorer in the 2008/09 season. In 2009 he was sold to Barcelona where he spent the next two years. There he won a Primera title, two Spanish Super Cups, and a Club World Cup. He wasn’t satisfied, so he was loaned to Milan, before signing for them in 2011. He won one scudetto and one Italian Super Cup with Milan, before signing for Paris Saint Germaine.
With Ibra in their squad, PSG dominated French football and in four years the club won 4 French league titles, as well as two Cups and three League Cups. When everybody thought that his time was over, Ibrahimovic signed for Mourinho’s Man United in 2016 and he won a League Cup, Europa League and an English Super Cup.
Ibrahimovic will always be remembered for his titles and all the magnificent goals that he has scored, and equally for the things that he has said. Always controversial, some of his statements will surely make you laugh. At the age of 17, he was asked by Arsene Wenger to come on a trial to Arsenal, but he responded with “Zlatan doesn’t do trials”.
Then we he left Barcelona, he famously said that one can’t drive a Ferrari like a Fiat, alluding that Pep Guardiola didn’t put his talent to good use. When Sweden failed to qualify for the World Cup, Ibra said that a World Cup without him isn’t a one worth watching. He also went on record saying that one can’t score goals like his even in a video game, despite the fact that video games are very realistic.