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Zlatan Ibrahimović

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Zlatan Ibrahimović
Ibrahimovic in Doha Press Conference.jpg
Ibrahimović at a conference in Doha, Qatar in 2013.
Personal information
Full name Zlatan Ibrahimović[1]
Date of birth (1981-10-03) 3 October 1981 (age 34)
Place of birth Malmö, Sweden
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)[2]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Manchester United
Number 9
Youth career
Malmö BI
FBK Balkan
Malmö FF
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2001 Malmö FF 40 (16)
2001–2004 Ajax 74 (35)
2004–2006 Juventus 70 (23)
2006–2009 Internazionale 88 (57)
2009–2011 Barcelona 29 (16)
2010–2011 Milan (loan) 29 (14)
2011–2012 Milan 32 (28)
2012–2016 Paris Saint-Germain 122 (113)
2016– Manchester United 0 (0)
National team
1999 Sweden U18[3] 4 (1)
2001 Sweden U21 7 (6)
2001–2016 Sweden 116 (62)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14 May 2016.

† Appearances (goals)

Zlatan Ibrahimović (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈslaːtan ɪbraˈhiːmɔvɪtɕ], Bosnian: [zlǎtan ibraxǐːmoʋitɕ]; born 3 October 1981) is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United. He was also a member of the Sweden national team, making his senior international debut in 2001 and serving as captain from 2010 until he retired from international football in 2016.[4]

Ibrahimović began his career at Malmö FF in the late 1990s before being signed by Ajax, where he made a name for himself. He signed for Juventus and excelled in Serie A in a strike partnership with David Trezeguet. In 2006, he signed for rival side Internazionale and was named to the UEFA Team of the Year in both 2007 and 2009. In addition, Ibrahimović would finish as the league's top scorer in 2008–09 and win three straight Scudetti. In the summer of 2009, he transferred to Barcelona, before moving back to Serie A football the following season, joining Milan in a deal that made him one of the highest-paid players in the world.[5] He won another Scudetto with A.C. Milan in the 2010–2011 season. He joined Paris Saint-Germain in July 2012. During his four-season stay at PSG, Ibrahimović won four consecutive Ligue 1 titles, three Coupes de la Ligue, two Coupes de France and was the top scorer in Ligue 1 for three seasons. In October 2015, he became PSG's all time leading goalscorer. He finished his PSG career with 156 goals in 180 competitive matches.[6]

Ibrahimović is one of ten players to have made 100 or more appearances for the Swedish national team. He is the country's all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals. He represented Sweden at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, as well as the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 UEFA European Championships. He has been awarded Guldbollen (the Golden Ball), given to the Swedish player of the year, a record ten times, including nine consecutive times from 2007 and 2015.[7]

With his playing style and acrobatic finishing compared to Dutch legend Marco van Basten, Ibrahimović is widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the game and one of the best footballers of his generation.[8][9][10][11] His spectacular bicycle kick for Sweden against England won the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year.[12] Off the field he is known for his brash persona and outspoken comments, in addition to referring to himself in the third person.[13][14] In December 2013, Ibrahimović was ranked by The Guardian as the third-best player in the world, behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.[15] In December 2014, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter named him the second-greatest Swedish sportsperson of all time, after tennis player Björn Borg.[16]

Early life

Ibrahimović was born in Sweden to a Muslim Bosniak father, Šefik Ibrahimović,[17] who emigrated to Sweden in 1977, and a Croatian Catholic mother, Jurka Gravić, who had also emigrated to Sweden, where the couple first met. His father was born in Bijeljina, Bosnia, and his mother was born in the village of Prkos near Škabrnja in Croatia's Zadar County.[18]

After receiving a pair of football boots, Ibrahimović began playing at the age of six, alternating between local junior clubs Malmö BI and FBK Balkan.[19][20] While in his early teens, he was a regular for his hometown club Malmö FF.[20] At the age of 15, Ibrahimović was close to quitting his football career, in favour of working at the docks in Malmö, but his manager convinced him to continue playing.[21] His idol was Brazilian star Ronaldo when he was growing up.[22]

Club career

Malmö FF

"Arsène Wenger asked me to have a trial with Arsenal when I was 17. I turned it down. Zlatan doesn't do auditions."

—Ibrahimović on turning down Arsenal.[13]

Ibrahimović signed his first contract with Malmö in 1996, and moved up to the senior side for the 1999 season of Allsvenskan, Sweden's top-flight league. That season, Malmö finished 13th in the league and were relegated to the second division, but returned to the top flight the next season. Arsène Wenger unsuccessfully tried to persuade Ibrahimović to join Arsenal, while Leo Beenhakker also expressed interest in the player after watching him in a friendly against Norwegian side Moss FK.[23] On 22 March 2001, a deal between Ajax and Malmö regarding Ibrahimović's transfer to Amsterdam was announced, and in July, Ibrahimović officially joined Ajax for 80 million Swedish kronor (€8.7 million).[24]

Ajax

Ibrahimović received little playing time under manager Co Adriaanse, but when Adriaanse was sacked on 29 November 2001, new coach Ronald Koeman inserted Ibrahimović into the starting lineup as Ajax won the 2001–02 Eredivisie title. The next season, Ibrahimović scored twice in a 2–1 victory over French champions Lyon in his Champions League debut on 17 September 2002. He scored five Champions League goals overall as Ajax fell to A.C. Milan in the quarter-finals.[25][26] In his final season with Ajax, Ibrahimović's profile rose when he scored a goal against NAC on 22 August 2004 that was eventually voted the "Goal of the Year" by Eurosport viewers.[27]

On 18 August 2004, during an international match against the Netherlands, Ibrahimović injured Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart, who later accused Ibrahimović of hurting him intentionally. This led to Ibrahimović's sudden sale to Juventus on 31 August.[28]

Juventus

Ibrahimović moved from Ajax to Juventus for €16 million.[29] He was promptly inserted into the starting eleven due in part to top scorer David Trezeguet's injury problems, and scored sixteen goals. Near the end of the season, Juventus reportedly rejected a €70 million bid for him from Real Madrid, which was later revealed to be a publicity stunt initiated by Ibrahimović's agent, Mino Raiola, in order to increase his market value.[27] On 14 November 2005, he was awarded the Guldbollen, a prize awarded to the best Swedish footballer of the year.[30]

The following season was poor compared to his first season; his role in Juventus' attack changed, as he became less of a goalscorer and moved more to the sidelines, taking much part in the build-up play, especially as a target player, and his assist numbers increased. In the 2005–06 season, Juventus fans often got frustrated with him due to his anonymous presence in certain important games such as the Champions League defeat to Arsenal. Juventus were stripped of their last two Scudetti as part of the verdict from the Calciopoli scandal, and were relegated to Serie B. The new staff tried to persuade Ibrahimović and other top players to stay with Juventus, but the player and his agent were adamant to move on, with Raiola threatening legal action in order to extricate Ibrahimović from his contract.[31]

Inter Milan

Ibrahimović and Mario Balotelli against Palermo in 2009

On 10 August 2006, Ibrahimović completed a €24.8 million move to Inter Milan, signing a four-year-deal,[32] this coming only a few days after 30-year-old midfielder Patrick Vieira had completed his own transfer from Juve to the Nerazzurri.[33] Ibrahimović revealed that he had supported Inter when he was young.[34]

Ibrahimović made his debut for Inter Milan on 26 August 2006 against Roma in the 2006 Supercoppa Italiana, playing full-90 minutes as Inter won after extra time.[35] He scored in his Serie A debut against Fiorentina on 9 September as Inter commenced the league with a 3–2 win at Stadio Artemio Franchi.[36] Three days later, in his first UEFA Champions League appearance for Inter, Ibrahimović wasn't able to avoid the 0–1 away defeat to Sporting as Inter begun their European campaign in the wrong way.[37] Later, on 28 October, in his first Derby della Madonnina match against the cross-town rivals of A.C. Milan, Ibrahimović scored the third Inter goal of the match and also his third league goal of the season in a 4–3 thriller win.[38] In his first season at the club, Ibrahimović top scored for Inter in Serie A with 15 goals, as the team won the Scudetto with a record 97 points.[39]

Ibrahimović played his 100th Serie A match on 16 September 2007 at San Siro against Catania, where he appeared as a second-half substitute for Hernán Crespo in an eventual 2–0 win.[40] His contract was renewed in 2007, it was due to expire in June 2013.[41] It was reported that this contract had made him the world's highest paid footballer.[42] On 18 May 2008, Ibrahimović scored both goals in a 2–0 defeat of Parma on the final day of the 2007–08 Serie A season, to give Inter a second consecutive Scudetto.[43] Overall, he scored 17 goals in 26 league matches, and was named both "Serie A Footballer of the Year" and "Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year".[43]

Ibrahimović ended the 2008–09 Serie A season as the league's top goalscorer with 25 goals, helping Inter to another league title. He was also named both "Footballer of the Year" and "Foreign Footballer of the Year" for the second consecutive season. His goal against Bologna was voted "Goal of the Year". He scored it with his heel without moving and accurately into the net from a cross by Adriano.[44]

Barcelona

"I was probably with the best team in history. Their football was beautiful. When I prepared for a game, I knew I had won even before we started. I looked at the players around me and saw Messi and Iniesta and Xavi and Puyol and Piqué and Dani Alves and Busquets. Unbelievable! It was football from another planet and I loved it. It was technically perfect."

"Zlatan Ibrahimović, the Guardian".  Interview, 6 October 2014

After Maxwell completed his transfer to Barcelona, president Joan Laporta confirmed that there was an agreement in principle between Barcelona and Inter Milan for Ibrahimović to join the club in exchange for Samuel Eto'o, plus a reported fee of £59 million.[45][46] Ibrahimović left Inter during their United States summer tour in the World Football Challenge on 23 July 2009 for negotiations with Barcelona, with his last match for Inter being against Chelsea.[47] After Inter agreed terms with Eto'o[48] and Barcelona with Ibrahimović,[49] Barcelona announced Ibrahimović would arrive on 26 July 2009 and undergo a medical test on 27 July 2009.[50]

Ibrahimović playing for Barcelona with Xavi

Ibrahimović passed his medical and was presented to a crowd of over 60,000 at Camp Nou.[51] He signed a 5-year contract,[52] for €46 million[52] and the exchange of Eto'o (valued at €20 million) and loan of Alexander Hleb (with an option to buy for a €10 million fee),[52] with a €250 million release clause,[52] making Ibrahimović worth €66 million. However, the Hleb deal collapsed. Eventually Ibrahimović cost Barcelona €69.884 million (£59 million), which included other fees.[53] As per the Inter book the fee was €69.5 million,[54][55] but part of the Inter fee (about 4.5%) was redistributed to youth clubs as solidarity contribution (except Juventus.[56])

Ibrahimović playing for Barcelona in a match against Sporting Gijón in 2009

Ibrahimović started the 2009–10 season with his competitive debut for Barcelona on 23 August 2009 by assisting on a goal by Lionel Messi, leading them to the Spanish Super Cup. In his next competitive match, Barcelona won the 2009 UEFA Super Cup.[57] In his third appearance, he scored his first goal in Barcelona's La Liga season opener against Sporting Gijón in a 3–0 win. Ibrahimović went on to score in his next four games, thus setting a team record as the only player ever to score in his first five league matches.[58][59]

On 20 October, he scored his first Champions League goal for Barcelona in a group stage match against Rubin Kazan. Five days later, he scored twice in a 6–1 thrashing of Real Zaragoza, giving him a league-leading seven goals in seven league matches while bringing Barcelona to the top of the table.[60] However, on 7 November, Ibrahimović suffered a thigh injury that kept him out for three weeks. He returned to action in week 12 of the season against Real Madrid as a second-half substitute for Thierry Henry, and scored his eighth goal of the campaign.[61] He finished with eleven goals and four assists in all but two of Barcelona's first fifteen league matches. Barcelona capped off 2009 by winning the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes on 19 December 2009.[62]

Ibrahimović signing autographs for fans in 2010.

Ibrahimović scored Barcelona's only goal in the 2009–10 Copa del Rey first leg match of the round of sixteen in a 2–1 loss to Sevilla on 5 January 2010. On 20 January, he was selected in the 2009 UEFA Team of the Year.[63] His first goal of 2010 came on 14 February against Atlético Madrid. In his next appearance, Ibrahimović scored against Stuttgart in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout stage fixture. He was sent off on 6 March in a league match against Almería, which Barcelona appealed to no avail, and he was suspended for one game.[64] A calf strain during warmups before the next La Liga match following his return from suspension against Athletic Bilbao ruled Ibrahimović out of the second leg 4–1 victory over Arsenal, in which he scored two goals away from home, the return leg of the El Clásico against Madrid (which Barcelona won 2–0),[65] and the next league match against Deportivo La Coruña. He made his return as a substitute in the 82nd minute in against Espanyol.

Ibrahimović finished the season with a sixth-best 16 league goals, as Barcelona won La Liga with 99 points in 38 matches. He scored his final goal for Barcelona in a Spanish Super Cup match on 14 August in a 3–1 defeat over Sevilla, and on 25 August, he played his last match for the club against A.C. Milan for the Joan Gamper Trophy, after which he claimed to the media that his relationship with coach Pep Guardiola had started deteriorating and that Guardiola had not spoken to him since February.[66]

Milan

2010–11 season

Ibrahimović playing for A.C. Milan in 2011.

On 28 August 2010, A.C. Milan announced via their official website that they had acquired the services of Ibrahimović for the 2010–11 season. He was loaned out to Milan for the season, with the club having the option to purchase him outright from Barcelona for €24 million at the end of the season.[67][68] Ibrahimović signed a four-year deal immediately after successfully passing the medical examinations.[69] Upon signing, Ibrahimović said, "This move gives me more adrenaline. I have moved here to win the Champions League with Milan. I want to win the double."[69]

He made his team debut in a 2–0 loss to Cesena on 11 September, in which he missed a penalty late in the match,[70] and scored his first goals for the club when Milan defeated Auxerre in their first Champions League match of the season on 15 September. On 14 November, Ibrahimović scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory against his former club Inter in the Derby della Madonnina.[71] On 20 November, he scored his seventh goal against Fiorentina in the 45th minute with an over-the-head bicycle kick, passing Alexandre Pato as the team's top goal scorer for the season. On 4 December 2010, in a game against Brescia, he assisted Kevin-Prince Boateng to give Milan an early lead and then scored the third goal by a powerful shot near the edge of the penalty box to give Milan a 3–0 win.[72] On 12 December 2010, history repeated itself in the game against Bologna after he assisted Kevin-Prince Boateng to give Milan an early lead once again and scoring later that match to make it 3–0, leading him to 13 goals with 8 assists in 21 matches in all competitions. Within days of the match he was compared to Milan legend, Marco van Basten, by both the media and van Basten himself.[8][10][73]

Ibrahimović received a three-match ban, after being shown a red card in a 1–1 home draw against Bari in March 2011 for punching Bari defender Marco Rossi in the stomach.[74] An additional three-match ban was given to Ibrahimović in February 2012, in a 1–2 home defeat against Fiorentina, for swearing at an assistant referee. Ibrahimović stated in his defense that he was talking to himself in frustration.[75] He won his first Scudetto with Milan after a stalemate against Roma. All agreements between Milan and Barcelona were confirmed on 18 June 2011.[76]

2011–12 season

Ibrahimović started the new season on 6 August 2011 in the Italian Super Cup against city rivals Inter, where he scored the first goal of a 2–1 comeback victory to clinch the first trophy of the season.[77] In the first league match of 2011–12 season, Ibrahimović also scored Milan's first goal of a 2–2 home draw against Lazio.[78] He scored his first UEFA Champions League goal of the season on 28 September in a 2–0 home win against Viktoria Plzeň,[79] which was followed by another one on 19 October against BATE Borisov in another 2–0 home win.[80] He continued with his solid performances as he scored in a 4–1 home win against Parma and a brace in the team's 2–3 win over Roma, ending a successful month of October.[81]

November saw him score in consecutive games against BATE, in the Champions League, and Catania, in the league. Later in the month against Barcelona in another Champions League tie, Ibrahimović scored against his old club to equalise the game at 1–1 but eventually Barça pulled away, a 3–2 winner at the San Siro. He ended November with a brace against Chievo, the first of those tallies brought his Serie A career total to 100 goals. In December Ibrahimović scored a goal in each of five Serie A games. As 2012 started he scored against Atalanta converting a penalty kick. He was the top goalscorer of Serie A, with 14 goals in 16 appearance following a brace against Novara, of which the second goal came on a cheeky backheel. On 5 January 2012 in a match against Napoli, Ibra was shown a red card for slapping Salvatore Aronica in an off-the-ball incident, and was given yet another three-match ban from Serie A games.[82]

On 15 February, in the 2011–12 Champions League season, Ibrahimović set up both of Robinho's goals and also scored by a spot kick, thus helping Milan win 4–0 over Arsenal.[83] He finished the season as Serie A top scorer with 28 goals in 32 matches.[84]

Paris Saint-Germain

2012–13 season

Ibrahimović unveiled by Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo (right) and President Nasser Al-Khelaifi (left)

On 17 July 2012, Paris Saint-Germain confirmed that they had reached an agreement to acquire the sporting and economic rights of Ibrahimović from A.C. Milan, having already agreed personal terms with the striker, for an initial transfer fee of around €20 million, making Ibrahimović the most expensive footballer in combined transfer fees. Valued at €180 million, these combined fees eclipsed those commanded by Nicolas Anelka. His three-year contract would see him receive a net annual salary of €14 million including bonuses (which would be €2 million more than what he was earning per year just before he left Milan), and make him the second best paid footballer in the world behind Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o.[85][86][87]

Ibrahimović greets PSG fans on the day he signed for the club, 18 July 2012

The following day, Ibrahimović signed the contract[88] and made the following statement during the press conference: "It is a big step in my career and another dream come true. I am very happy because it is a project that I want to be involved in. I want to be part of the history of the club. I am here to win and nothing else."[89]

Ibrahimović scored twice in the second half for PSG to help them rally from 2–0 down at half-time to salvage a 2–2 home draw with Lorient in their opening 2012–13 Ligue 1 match.[90] He scored two goals in the first half to help PSG to a 2–1 win over Lille which was PSG's first Ligue 1 win after three successive draws in the first three league matches of the 2012–13 season.[91]

"We haven't had a goalscorer like him in France for a long time. He is on a different planet to anyone else."

Jean-Pierre Papin on Ibrahimović[10]

In the opening 2012–13 UEFA Champions League Group A match against Dynamo Kyiv on 18 September 2012, Ibrahimović scored his sixth goal in only his fifth appearance for Carlo Ancelotti's side through a penalty. He thus became the first man to score for six clubs in the UEFA Champions League.[92] On 8 October 2012, Ibrahimović became only the third player (after Ronaldinho and Laurent Blanc) to have played in the El Clásico in Spain, the Derby della Madonnina in Italy and the Le Classique, the derby between Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain. He scored both of PSG's goals (the first goal was from a backheel and the second was from a free kick) in the Ligue 1 Classique derby at the Stade Vélodrome on that day, with the match finishing 2–2.[93] On 11 December 2012, he scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 away win against Valenciennes.[94]

In January 2013, Ibrahimović was handed the number 10 jersey after the departure of Brazilian winger Nené. In April 2013, Ibrahimović scored in a 2–2 draw against his former club Barcelona in the quarter finals of the Champions League. However, PSG were knocked out on away goals after drawing 1–1 at Camp Nou in the second leg. He ended the season as assists leader in the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League, providing 7 assists.[95]

On 12 May 2013, Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 title after a 1–0 away win against Olympique Lyonnais, their third title and first since 1994.[96][97][98][99] He ended the year as Ligue 1's top goalscorer with 30 goals, becoming the first player to reach that mark in the French top flight since Jean-Pierre Papin in the 1989–90 season.[100] On 20 May 2013, he was named as Ligue 1's player of the year by the Union nationale des footballeurs professionnels (UNFP).[101][102]

2013–14 season

Ibrahimović netted his first goal of the season on 31 August 2013, scoring deep into stoppage time as PSG recorded a 2–0 victory over Guingamp.[103] On 24 September, it was announced that Ibrahimović had extended his contract with Paris Saint-Germain, which now will expire in 2016.[104] A week later on 2 October, the Swede scored twice as PSG ran out 3–0 winners over Benfica in a Champions League group match.[105]

On 19 October, he scored two goals in PSG's 4–0 win over Bastia, one an audacious volleyed back heel as he reached behind the defender to fire the ball into the net.[106] The goal was later named as Ligue 1's goal of the season.[106] Four days later, Ibrahimović scored four goals in PSG's 5–0 away win against RSC Anderlecht in the Champions League - he scored the eighth-fastest hat-trick in the competition's history and become the eleventh player to score four times or more in a Champions League match.[107] The third goal of the four was clocked at a speed of 93 mph.[108]

On 27 November 2013, Ibrahimović made his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance, scoring the opening goal in a 2–1 win over Olympiakos Piraeus at the Parc des Princes.[109]

On 16 March 2014, Ibrahimović scored both goals in a 2–0 win over Saint-Étienne to surpass Carlos Bianchi's club record of 39 goals in a season.[110] On 11 May, he was named Ligue 1's player of the year for the second consecutive season.[106] Ibrahimović ended the Ligue 1 season as top scorer with 26 goals as PSG won a second consecutive league title.[111] Overall, he scored 41 goals in all competitions, including ten in eight Champions League matches.[112]

2014–15 season

Ibrahimović playing against FC Shakhtar Donetsk in 2015.

Ibrahimović scored his first two goals for Paris Saint Germain on 2 August 2014 against Guingamp in the 2014 Trophée des Champions, winning his first silverware of the season.[113] In the first league match of the season, Ibrahimović scored twice but also missed an open net and had a penalty saved as PSG drew 2−2 with Stade de Reims.[114] Ibrahimović scored his first league hat-trick of the season in a match against Saint-Étienne on 31 August.[115]

In the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue on 13 January 2015, Ibrahimović scored the only goal to win away at Saint-Étienne. The home team argued that the ball had not crossed the line, and fans threw objects onto the pitch, disrupting play for 10 minutes.[116]

On 11 March, Ibrahimović received a straight red card in a Champions League round of 16 match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, for a foul on Oscar. PSG drew 2–2 after extra time to qualify for the quarter-finals on away goals.[117] Nine days later, he scored a hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Lorient at the Parc des Princes.[118][119][120] He netted another hat-trick on 8 April as PSG reached the 2015 Coupe de France Final with a 4–1 win over Saint-Étienne, starting with a penalty for his 100th goal for the club. He ended the match with 102 career goals for PSG, second only to Pauleta.[121][122][123] Three days later, he scored twice as PSG defeated Bastia 4–0 in the 2015 Coupe de la Ligue Final. The first goal was a penalty which he won when fouled by Sébastien Squillaci, resulting in the Bastia defender's dismissal.[124]

2015–16 season

On 4 October 2015, Ibrahimović scored both goals from penalty kicks in a 2–1 home win over Olympique de Marseille to overtake Pauleta and become Paris Saint-Germain's all time leading goalscorer with 110 goals in all official competitions.[125]

On 25 November 2015, Ibrahimović captained PSG on his return to hometown club Malmö FF in the group stage of the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League. He scored the team's third goal in a 5–0 win; a result that confirmed PSG's qualification to the knockout stage of the competition.[126] In scoring twice in PSG's 3–0 win over Nice on 4 December 2015, Ibrahimović beat Mustapha Dahleb's previous record of 85 goals to become the club's all-time top goalscorer in the French first division.[127]

On 16 February 2016, in the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Chelsea at home, Ibrahimović scored the opener in the 39th minute with a free kick to help his team win the match 2–1.[128] This was Ibrahimović's 116th appearance in the Champions League, meaning that he overtook Carles Puyol to enter the competition's all-time top 10 appearance makers.[129] Four days later, Ibrahimović netted twice during the 4–1 home win over Reims, taking his tally up to 23 league goals; he also set up the goals of Edinson Cavani and Gregory van der Wiel.[130]

On 9 March 2016, in the second leg of PSG's Champions League tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Ibrahimović assisted a goal for Adrien Rabiot and scored the winning goal himself as Paris won the match 2–1 and progressed to the quarter-final stage with a 4–2 aggregate victory.[131] With this goal, he became the 14th player to score 50 or more goals in UEFA club competitions.[132] Four days later, he scored four times in a 9–0 win at bottom team Troyes that sealed PSG's league conquest with eight games remaining; his hat-trick goal was his 100th in the league.[133] His nine-minute hat-trick was the fastest in Ligue 1 history.[134]

Later that day he announced he would be leaving PSG at the end of the season, while joking that only if they replaced the Eiffel Tower with a statue of himself he would stay.[135] On 16 April, Ibrahimović scored twice in a 6–0 home win against Caen to earn him a season-best 32 goals in league; it was also his 41st goal of the season, equaling his season-best in 2013–14 season with two games less playing.[136] Three days later, he netted the winner in the 2015–16 Coupe de France semi-final match away against Lorient to send Paris into the final for the second consecutive season; it was also his 42nd goal of the season, setting a new personal best.[137]

On 8 May 2016, Ibrahimović was named UNFP Ligue 1 player of the season for the third consecutive year.[138]

Ibrahimović made his final Ligue 1 appearance for PSG against FC Nantes at the Parc des Princes stadium on 14 May 2016, scoring twice in a 4–0 victory to became Paris Saint-Germain's top scorer in a single Ligue 1 season with 38 goals, which put him one goal ahead of Carlos Bianchi who managed 37 in the 1977–78 campaign. Ibrahimović ended the 2015–16 Ligue 1 season as its top scorer, the third time that he had done so. The league match was stopped briefly in the 10th minute as fans gave Ibrahimović - whose PSG shirt was No. 10 - a standing ovation. He was also cheered just before the final whistle, holding his two sons in his arms. They had moments earlier ran onto the pitch, wearing No. 10 PSG shirts with either the word 'King' or 'Legend' written in English on the back. The names were in reference to their father's 'I came like a king, left like a legend' post on social media before the match.[139][140]

On 21 May 2016, Ibrahimović scored twice (his 155th and 156th goals in his 180th and final competitive match for the club) in the second half of the 2016 Coupe de France final, and also set up Edinson Cavani's goal. PSG defeated Olympique de Marseille 4–2 in that match. He was substituted to a standing ovation in the final minutes of the match. PSG thus won the Ligue 1-Coupe de France-Coupe de la Ligue domestic treble for the second consecutive season and equalled Olympique de Marseille's all-time record of 10 Coupe de France titles.[141][142]

Manchester United

On 1 July 2016, Ibrahimović signed as a free agent for Manchester United on a one-year contract, which had the option of being extended depending on his performance for the club.[143][144] His salary is reported to be £200,000 per week.[145] He was handed the number 9 jersey ahead of the 2016–17 season.[146]

International career

Ibrahimović (seen here in 2013) played for the Sweden national football team from 2001 until 2016, and is currently their all-time leading goalscorer.

Ibrahimović was eligible to represent Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Croatia at international level; he chose Sweden.[147] He made his debut for Sweden in a 0–0 friendly draw against the Faroe Islands at Tipshallen on 31 January 2001 during the 2000–01 Nordic Football Championship.[148][149] On 7 October 2001, he played his first competitive match, a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, scoring in a 3–0 win. Ibrahimović was part of the Sweden squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea/Japan who were eliminated at the round of 16 by newcomers Senegal.[150]

During the 2006 World Cup qualification, Ibrahimović scored four goals in a 7–0 victory away to Malta on 4 September 2004. He did not score during the 2006 World Cup finals, as Sweden were knocked out in the round of 16, this time by Germany.[151]

He was called up for a Euro 2008 qualifier against Liechtenstein on 6 September 2006, but two days before the match, he violated team curfew by leaving the hotel with teammates Christian Wilhelmsson and Olof Mellberg, visiting a nightclub. Though none of the players consumed any alcohol, they were nonetheless all sent home by manager Lars Lagerbäck as punishment and did not take part in the match. Mellberg and Wilhelmsson did not appeal the coach's decision, but Ibrahimović felt that it was unjust and therefore refused to take part in Sweden's next qualifiers against Iceland and Spain. He also refused to partake in a friendly against Egypt on 7 February 2007, but ended his self-imposed boycott a month later,[152] and returned for Sweden's loss to Northern Ireland on 28 March. He did not score in any of the 12 qualifying matches. Ibrahimović was awarded the 2007 Swedish Golden Ball as the "Country's Top Player of the Year."[153]

Ibrahimović ended his international goal drought, which had lasted for over two years, against Greece in Sweden's Euro 2008 opener on 10 June 2008, and the next match against Spain four days later.[154][155] He finished the tournament with two goals as Sweden were eliminated in the group stage by Russia.[156] Ibrahimović scored a goal in a 4–0 win against Malta on 10 June 2009 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier.[157] On 5 September 2009, he scored a last second goal in Ferenc Puskás Stadium against Hungary in a 2–1 win for Sweden in their qualification match.[158]

Ibrahimović playing for Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012

Ahead of the Euro 2012 qualification, Ibrahimović was named team captain on his return to the national team. He scored his first goals of the qualifying game against San Marino, where he scored the first and fifth goals in a 6–0 win in front of over 21,000 home fans despite being down to 10 men for over an hour. His next goals came in the form of a hat-trick against Finland whom they beat 5–0.

At the Euro 2012 finals, Ibrahimović scored the opening goal in Sweden's first game against Ukraine.[159] He then scored with a volley, later considered the goal of the tournament, to open the score in Sweden's 2–0 win against France in the last group match. Despite the victory, Sweden was knocked out in the group stage.

In October 2012, Ibrahimović scored Sweden's first goal as they came from 4–0 down to draw 4–4 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Germany in Berlin.[160] It was the first time in its history that the German national team had not won a match after leading by four goals.[161]

On 14 November 2012, he scored all four goals in a 4–2 win over England in the first ever match at the Friends Arena.[162][163] His fourth goal, a 35-yard overhead kick with his back to goal, won him praise from players and pundits, with the BBC describing it as a goal that "combined unfathomable imagination and expert technique".[164] It would win the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year.[12]

On 14 August 2013, Ibrahimović scored another international hat-trick at the Friends Arena, scoring Sweden's first three goals in a 4–2 friendly win against Scandinavian rivals Norway.[165] Ibrahimović ended Sweden's qualifying campaign with eight goals, including two in a play-off defeat to Portugal, as the team failed to reach the 2014 World Cup.[166]

On 4 September 2014, Ibrahimović scored his 50th international goal in a 2–0 friendly match victory over Estonia, making him the Swedish national team's all-time leading goalscorer. Earlier in the same match, he equaled Sven Rydell's record of 49 by scoring the opening goal.[167] On 8 September, he made his 100th appearance for Sweden in a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier against Austria at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna.[168]

On 14 November 2015, Ibrahimović scored the winning goal for Sweden in a 2–1 victory in the home leg of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying play-off against rivals Denmark. Three days later, he scored both Sweden's goals of a 2–2 draw in Copenhagen to qualify the nation for the UEFA Euro 2016 finals.[169] Ibrahimović scored 11 goals during the qualifying phase, making him its second-top goalscorer after Poland's Robert Lewandowski.[170]

On 11 May 2016, Ibrahimović made the final 23-man squad for Sweden at Euro 2016. As captain, he played every minute of Sweden's three group matches, but did not score any goals. He managed only one shot on target during the tournament.[171] Sweden finished in last place in their group and as a result were eliminated along with seven other teams in the group stage.[172] On 21 June 2016, Ibrahimović announced that he would retire from international football immediately after Sweden's last match at Euro 2016.[173]

Style of play

"Swedish style? No. Yugoslavian style? Of course not. It has to be Zlatan-style."

—Ibrahimović describes his unique playing style[174]

Ibrahimović has been described by ESPN as being "good in the air, tall, strong and agile, he plays well with his back to goal and boasts some of the best finishing, vision, passing and ball control around."[8] Although he has been criticised for his work-rate in big matches, he has scored in some of the biggest matches in football including the Milan Derby in Italy, El Clásico in Spain, Le Classique in France, and UEFA Champions League and UEFA Euro Championship games against some of the strongest opponents in football.[175][176][177][178][179] Ibrahimović is the only player to have scored for six different clubs in the Champions League.[180] Tactically, Ibrahimović is capable of playing anywhere along the front line, although he is most often deployed as a striker, or as a creative supporting forward, which allows him to provide assists for team mates.[181][182][183]

Due to his prolific goal scoring and spectacular strikes,[184][185][186] Ibrahimović is regarded by many in the sport to be one of the best players in the world and one of the most complete strikers of his generation.[187] He has however been criticised for his aggression and rebellious character at times.[185][188][189] Due to his powerful shots and volleys from inside and outside the penalty area with both feet and on dead ball situations, his agility, acrobatic ability in the air, physicality, skill, finishing and technique, Ibrahimović has frequently been compared to Dutch legend Marco van Basten.[188][190][191][192] Despite this comparison, Ibrahimović has stated that his main influence was his idol, former Brazilian superstar Ronaldo, whom he regards as the greatest player of all time.[193]

Controversies

Ibrahimović has been involved in several violent incidents with teammates, some of which have gone viral on the internet. After a 2004 international friendly against the Netherlands, Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart publicly accused Ibrahimović of deliberately injuring him during the game. Ibrahimović responded by threatening to break both of Van der Vaart's legs.[194] Ibrahimović also punched Ajax teammate Mido in the dressing room after the latter had thrown a pair of scissors at him.[194]

During his spell at Barcelona, Ibrahimović had a falling-out with coach Pep Guardiola, culminating in a dressing room incident in which Ibrahimović threw a training-kit box across the room and screamed insults at Guardiola. Guardiola eventually refused to speak to Ibrahimović and loaned him out to Milan.[195] Barcelona vice president Carles Vilarrubi further revealed that Ibrahimović had threatened to publicly beat up Guardiola if he was not released to Milan.[196]

In 2010, Ibrahimović was involved in a training-ground fistfight with Milan teammate Oguchi Onyewu, after Ibrahimović made a two-footed tackle on him, followed by a headbutt. The players were separated and the session prematurely abandoned; Ibrahimović suffered a broken rib in the fracas. Both players had accused one of insulting the other.[194][197] In March 2011, Ibrahimović was given a three-match ban for punching Bari defender Marco Rossi in the stomach during a game.[198] He received another three-match ban in February 2012 for slapping Napoli player Salvatore Aronica.[199] In 2011, Ibrahimović kicked teammate Antonio Cassano in the face while Cassano was speaking to reporters.[200] and kicked Rodney Strasser during a training session.[201]

In November 2012, he received a two-match ban for kicking AS Saint-Étienne goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier in the chest.[202][203] In December 2012, Ibrahimović was accused by Lyon defender Dejan Lovren and president Jean-Michel Aulas of deliberately stamping on Lovren's head.[204] In February 2013, UEFA handed Ibrahimović a two-match ban for stamping on Valencia winger Andrés Guardado.[205][206] In March 2013, PSG winger Lucas Moura claimed that Ibrahimović regularly insulted team-mates, stating "He always asks for the ball and insults a lot. He is sometimes a bit arrogant and complains."[207] Lucas later claimed, though, that the interview was twisted and badly translated.[208] In May 2013, Ibrahimović was filmed screaming at sporting director Leonardo after PSG's title victory.[209]

Lyon coach Hubert Fournier accused Ibrahimović of abusing officials, stating in January 2015 that "all the referees in this league get insulted by this person."[210] Two months later, after a loss by PSG in a Ligue 1 match, Ibrahimović ranted, "In 15 years I’ve never seen a [good] referee in this shit country ... [they] don’t even deserve PSG". He later apologised, but was criticised by French politicians,[211][212] and Ligue 1 imposed a four-match ban.[213]

Ibrahimović has additionally engaged in multiple incidents while on the national team. After Sweden's 1–0 victory over the Faroe Islands in October 2012, Faroes captain Fróði Benjaminsen accused Ibrahimović of foul play and insults, describing him as "arrogant", "childish", "ignorant", and a "dirty player".[214] In December 2015, French sports daily L'Équipe branded Ibrahimović and Cristiano Ronaldo the "most arrogant" footballers in the world.[215] Ibrahimović was additionally caught on camera kicking teammate Christian Wilhelmsson during training.[201][216] In 2013, he came under fire from the Sweden women's national team for an interview published on Christmas Day by tabloid Expressen, in which he had commented about the disparity of achievements by, and treatment of, male and female footballers. Former teammate Anders Svensson had been rewarded with a car for becoming Sweden's most-capped player that year, but Therese Sjögran had received no such reward for doing likewise for the women's team, despite owning 41 more caps (187 to 146) than Svensson at the time.[217] Ibrahimović's response to the issue was that Sweden would be "devaluing" Svensson "by comparing him with the ladies' individual achievements. They can get a bike with my autograph on it and then we're good."[217] Coach Pia Sundhage replied that his comments were "sad and unfortunate" and epitomized "failings in the basic values of male football", while Sjögran said, "I understand him when he says that the men's national team brings in more money and exposure. That's true. But this is about respect."[217]

In April 2016, Raiola announced that Ibrahimović would be suing Swedish trainer Ulf Karlsson over doping claims.[218] According to Expressen, Karlsson cited Ibrahimović's "unnatural" and "rapid weight gain" during his stint with Juventus.[219] Raiola said about the allegations, "The claims are just crazy – the facts are not there. All the clubs Zlatan has been at know he doesn't even take aspirin."[218]

Personal life

Ibrahimović inscription on the Walk of Fame in his hometown Malmö

Ibrahimović has two siblings and three half-siblings. His longtime partner is Helena Seger with whom he has two sons: Maximilian (born 22 September 2006) and Vincent (born 6 March 2008). He currently resides in Paris, although he still has a home in Malmö where he spends his summers. Ibrahimović received an honorary black belt in taekwondo; he attended classes at the Malmö Taekwondo club Enighet (English: Unity) as a child.[220] Ibrahimović is fluent in five languages; Swedish, Bosnian, English, Spanish and Italian.[221][222] In a February 2011 interview with Eurosport, Ibrahimović stated that the boxer "Muhammad Ali is one of my role models, one of my idols in sport and outside the sport also (sic)...he believed in his [principles] and he never gave [them] up."[223] In interviews, Ibrahimović has stressed both his Muslim and Catholic parentage, and is religiously syncretic; in November 2015 he told CNN that his Muslim background is "not a factor" in French fans' perception of him: "My father is Muslim and my mother is Catholic," he said. "For me it is all about respect. That's how I grew up and the way I learned to be. This is what I am."[224] Ibrahimović views football as a meta-religion in which "everyone is welcome."[225] Ibrahimović has stated that he is a Catholic.[226][227][228]

The name Zlatan was trademarked in May 2003 at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office for "most likely being perceived as Zlatan Ibrahimović", which meant that he received exclusive rights to the name for certain products, including sporting goods, clothing, and shoes.[229] He is under contract with Nike and features in their television advertising where he has appeared alongside other players in the Nike stable including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Wayne Rooney.[230]

On 17 May 2006, "Who's da Man" a song performed by Elias, featuring Swedish child singer Frans was released in tribute to Ibrahimović sung in the Scanian dialect of Swedish. The song was the biggest summer Swedish hit of 2006, staying at number one of the Sverigetopplistan official singles chart for 10 consecutive weeks.

Ibrahimović wears the Nike Mercurial boot line and has the names and dates of birth of his sons embedded onto the external sides of his boots. In late 2007, Ibrahimović, with the help of Nike, self-funded Zlatan Court in the streets of the city district Rosengård in his hometown Malmö: he provided a playing mat, goalposts, lighting, and a modern fence.[231] In 2008, he donated new Nike kits to his youth club, FBK Balkan.[232]

While in Malmö with the national team in September 2012, Ibrahimović was honoured with the inscription of his name on the city's "Walk of Fame of Sports".[233] The Swedish Post Office issued a set of five postage stamps featuring Ibrahimovic in March 2014.[234] Ibrahimović features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, and was the fourth highest rated player in FIFA 15.[235]

On 11 August 2014, Ibrahimović paid US$51,000 to send the Swedish national football team for the intellectually disabled to the INAS World Football Championships in Brazil. After teammates Johan Elmander, Kim Källström, Andreas Isaksson and Per Nilsson donated autographed jerseys to be auctioned off for the cause, Ibrahimović responded, "What the hell are you going to do with a shirt? How much is it to go?".[236][237]

On 14 February 2015 in a league match against Caen, Ibrahimović took off his shirt after scoring a goal to unveil the removable tattooed names of 50 people suffering from hunger around the world, in a gesture to raise awareness for famine in accordance with the United Nations World Food Programme.[238]

On 17 February 2016 Independent Swedish film production company Auto Images released the sports documentary Becoming Zlatan which follows Ibrahimović through his formative years with Malmö FF and AFC Ajax all the way to his break through with Juventus F.C. in 2005. The film has been featured at several film festivals including the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Helsinki Documentary Film Festival and the Rouen Nordic Film Festival amongst others.[239]

Career statistics

Club

As of 21 May 2016[4][240][241]
Club Season League Cup Europe1 Other2 Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Malmö FF 1999 6 1 6 1
2000 26 12 3 2 29 14
2001 8 3 4 0 12 3
Total 40 16 7 2 47 18
Ajax 2001–02 24 6 3 1 6 2 33 9
2002–03 25 13 3 3 13 5 1 0 42 21
2003–04 22 13 1 0 8 2 31 15
2004–05 3 3 1 0 4 3
Total 74 35 7 4 27 9 2 0 110 48
Juventus 2004–05 35 16 0 0 10 0 45 16
2005–06 35 7 2 0 9 3 1 0 47 10
Total 70 23 2 0 19 3 1 0 92 26
Inter Milan 2006–07 27 15 1 0 7 0 1 0 36 15
2007–08 26 17 0 0 7 5 1 0 34 22
2008–09 35 25 3 3 8 1 1 0 47 29
Total 88 57 4 3 22 6 3 0 117 66
Barcelona 2009–10 29 16 2 1 10 4 4 0 45 21
2010–11 1 1 1 1
Total 29 16 2 1 10 4 5 1 46 22
Milan 2010–11 29 14 4 3 8 4 41 21
2011–12 32 28 3 1 8 5 1 1 44 35
Total 61 42 7 4 16 9 1 1 85 56
Paris Saint-Germain 2012–13 34 30 2 2 9 3 1 0 46 35
2013–14 33 26 2 3 8 10 3 2 46 41
2014–15 24 19 3 4 6 2 4 5 37 30
2015–16 31 38 6 7 10 5 4 0 51 50
Total 122 113 13 16 33 20 12 7 180 156
Manchester United 2016–17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career totals 484 302 42 30 127 51 24 9 677 392

1 Includes the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup / Europa League matches.

2 Includes the Coupe de la Ligue, Johan Cruijff Shield, Supercoppa Italiana, Supercopa de España, Trophée des champions, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup matches.

International

[242][243][244][245][246][247][248]

National team Year Apps Goals
Sweden U21 2001 7 6
Total 7 6

[249]

National team Year Apps Goals
Sweden
2001 5 1
2002 10 2
2003 4 3
2004 12 8
2005 5 4
2006 6 0
2007 7 0
2008 7 2
2009 6 2
2010 4 3
2011 11 3
2012 8 11
2013 11 9
2014 5 3
2015 10 11
2016 5 0
Total 116 62

Honours

Club

Ajax[250]
Juventus[250]
Inter Milan[250]
Barcelona[250]
Milan[250]
Paris Saint-Germain[250]

Individual

Achievements

Records

Overall

Sweden

Barcelona

  • Only player ever to score in his first five league matches.[58]

Paris Saint-Germain

Discography

Singles

Year Album Peak positions
SWE
2014 "Du gamla, Du fria"
(Zlatan featuring Day)
(Produced by Max Martin)
[289]
13

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External links