Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a very familiar name in football in the twenty-first century who has been always at the center of attention of football clubs, fans, and media, be it for his exceptional performances or controversies. He has played in four of the top five leagues and has won three of them. He has scored more than 550 goals, but what people most like is his stunning long rangers, bicycle kicks, or flying goals – the type of goals only he can score. He is undoubtedly one of the best forwards the world has ever seen. There are many people who think he is one of the most entertaining football personalities in the world, both on and off the pitch. Be it his performances, or his interviews Zlatan rarely fails to amaze people.
Childhood of Zlatan : Overcoming the difficulties of life
Zlatan had an eventful childhood, where most of the stories of his childhood are not as glorious as his career. Instead, he had to fight a lot to overcome the difficulties he faced as a little kid and it took a lot of courage to become who he is today. Zlatan was born in Rosengard of Malmo city, Sweden, on 3rd October 1981. He was born to an immigrant family, where his father Šefik Ibrahimovic was a Bosnian Muslim, and mother Jurka Gravić was a Croatian catholic. Suffering poverty from childhood, Zlatan grew up in the alleys of Rosengard where he would pick street fights with other kids and steal from local stores in order to survive. Once he said in an interview “When we needed something for ourselves, all we do was to go to the shop and steal. I had a particularly good relationship with bikes!”
Childhood became much harder for Zlatan when his parents got divorced only two years after his birth. Those incidents and roughness of life taught him a lesson, that leads him to build a very strong personality, helped him to look out for himself from a very young age, and changed him to be a man who would never bend his head to anyone at any cost.
“My dad was never there. I looked after myself. Maybe it did hurt. I can’t really tell.”Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Started playing football at the age of six, Zlatan mostly played with local teams until he joined Malmo FF. There is a story about Zlatan from his childhood, that’ll probably give you an idea about Zlatan’s true feelings. Zlatan admitted in many interviews that he used to go to school mostly for the free meal. However, he was a troubled kid even at the school. So when the school hired a special teacher to work with him, he couldn’t bear the humiliation anymore. One day Ibrahimovic was playing soccer in the afternoon and the teacher was watching him play. He took a long powerful shot targeting the teacher’s head and he didn’t miss. A few days later the teacher had to leave school and a lesson was learned. By that very action, Zlatan was trying to prove that he can not only stand the cruel, heartless world but also can bend it at his will with a football on his feet. “I wanted to stand up to the whole world and show everybody who’d doubted me who I really was,” he wrote in his autobiography.
At the age of 15, Zlatan almost quit playing football, in order to work at the docks of Malmo, but his manager convinces him at that time to continue playing. Thanks to him we got to see the masterclass of Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the years. While growing up, Zlatan idolized Brazilian forward Ronaldo as his role model.
Career overview : From Malmo to Milan
Ibrahimovic has had a glorious career as a professional football player who has played in four of the top five leagues in Europe and has won three different league titles amongst the top five leagues. Zlatan started his professional football career for Malmo FF in 1991, where he played for their junior team, U17, and U19 team before getting promoted to the senior squad. After spending 10 years at Malmo, he joined Ajax in 2001. He won the Eredivisie league title two times for Ajax while he scored 48 goals in 110 appearances for them. Then he joined Serie A giants Juventus in 2004. After two years he left Juventus for another Serie A giants Inter Milan. During his three years at Inter, he played an important role for the club to help them win the Serie A title in all three seasons. He scored 66 goals and provided 29 assists in 117 matches for Inter Milan.
In 2009, Pep Guardiola‘s Barcelona signed him for a stunning €69.5 Million. However, his Barcelona career was not so happy chapter of his career and he only played at the club for just one season. Soon after joining Barcelona, he had a dispute with the boss Guardiola himself, which caused him to leave the club the next season. Despite all this, he won the La Liga title in his only season at Barcelona. After leaving Barcelona, he returned to Italy, this time to play for another Italian big club AC Milan. He is one of the very few players who has played for all the three big clubs of Italy – Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan. This time he again clinched the Serie A title for AC Milan in 2010-11. He left AC Milan in 2012 to play in France for Paris SG. In his four years spell at Paris, Zlatan won 4 Ligue 1 titles and 2 French cup trophies. He became the all-time highest goal scorer for PSG with 156 goals. Though he was later surpassed by another PSG legend Edinson Cavani, he is currently the second all-time top scorer for PSG.
At the age of 34, Zlatan came to English Premier League to play for the mighty Manchester United in order to find a new challenge in his career. When you think about it, there are not many players who have joined Premier League at that age, especially a player who has proved himself in La Liga, Ligue 1, and in Serie A, playing for the three biggest clubs there. Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in his first season for Manchester United, among which 17 goals were scored in Premier League and he was United’s highest goal scorer in that season. He also won UEFA Europa League, the first and only European trophy in his career. Although then Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho had his complete faith in Zlatan, he was suffering from an injury during his second season at Manchester and because of it, his game time became very limited. He had no option but to leave the club in the winter of 2018. After that, he joined the MLS side LA Galaxy in March 2018.
After playing for two seasons in the United States, Zlatan came back to Europe. Just when everyone thought that his career is on the verge of its finishing point, he joined his old club AC Milan at the age of 38, in January 2020. He scored 11 goals in 20 matches, just playing the half of the season of 2019-20 for AC Milan, a pretty insane statistics for a 38 years old striker.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Records and Statistics
Other than numerous goals and trophies, there are some individual records possessed by Zlatan which is bound to surprise you. Zlatan has scored in every minute in football matches throughout his career. Only he and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only players to achieve this unique record. Also, he won the Puskas award 2013 for scoring a stunning back volley goal from more than 30 meters away against England. He is also one of the 10 players to make more than 100 appearances for the country and is the highest goal scorer for Sweden with 62 goals.
He has recently achieved the record of scoring goals in four consecutive decades, no other player in Europe currently possess the same record. He has been awarded the Guldbollen (The Golden Ball) award, which is given to the Swedish player of the year, he received this award for ten times, including nine consecutive times from 2007 to 2015. In December 2014, Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter named him the second greatest Swedish sports personality of all time, after tennis player Bjorn Borg.
He has many tattoos on his body, which he often loves to display during a celebration on the ground. However, Once he tattooed 15 names on his body, he revealed during a live match that the name of those people tattooed on his body, they all suffered from hunger. It was reported that 805 million people suffer from hunger in the world, a huge number that does not often make the headlines. To draw attention to this problem, the United Nations World Food Program – the largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, initiated the ‘805 million names’ awareness campaign, starring Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Zlatan also has written his autobiography, named ‘I am Zlatan’. The book was a bestseller once and has won a number of awards as well, which holds many unknown stories of Zlatan’s childhood. There is one last thing that you should definitely know about Zlatan – he has professional training in martial arts and has two black belts in Taekwondo. Perhaps you may have noticed glimpses of his martial art skills when he scores stunning goals on the pitch.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been one of the greatest strikers of his generation, who has scored goals in whichever part of the world he has played, won trophies everywhere. He has won 33 trophies till now in his career and has scored more than 550 goals. He is currently the third-highest active goal scorer, sitting behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Other than his prolific goal-scoring records, he should be remembered for the fitness and agility he possesses. To be 39 years old and still playing at the top level in Europe for a top club, is something very rare and great indeed. However, It’s really shocking that a player of his caliber never won Ballon d’Or or UEFA Champions League.
From a skinny boy from Rosengard, how Zlatan became one of the best footballers is always an inspirational story. Though sometimes people remember him more for his controversies than his achievements, that doesn’t define who Zlatan actually is. For the last three decades, Zlatan has enjoyed a very glorious career, has achieved numerous splendid records and awards, the likes of which achieved by very few footballers in the world.
We wish Zlatan Ibrahimovic a very happy birthday and all the best for his future .
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