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Zlatan Ibrahimovi?
Zlatan Ibrahimovi? June 2018.jpg
Ibrahimovi? in 2018
Personal information
Full name Zlatan Ibrahimovi?[1]
Date of birth (1981-10-03) 3 October 1981 (age 37)[1]
Place of birth Malmö, Sweden
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)[2]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
LA Galaxy
Number 9
Youth career
1989-1991 Malmö BI
1991-1995 FBK Balkan
1995-1999 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 Inter Milan 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)
2016-2018 Manchester United 33 (17)
2018- LA Galaxy 52 (48)
National team
1999 Sweden U18 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 04:29, 16 September 2019 (UTC)

Zlatan Ibrahimovi? (Swedish pronunciation: ['sla:tan ?bra'hi:m?v?t?], Bosnian: [zl?tan ibrax?:mo?it?]; born 3 October 1981) is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a striker for LA Galaxy. He is a prolific goalscorer who is best known for his technique, creativity, strength, ability in the air, and his powerful and accurate striking ability. He is currently the third-most decorated active footballer in the world,[note 1] having won 31 trophies in his career.[5] He has scored over 530 senior career goals for club and country.[6]

Ibrahimovi? began his career at Malmö FF in the late 1990s, where consistent standout performances earned him a move to Ajax. At Ajax, Ibrahimovi? gained a reputation as one of the most promising forwards in Europe, and departed two years later to sign for Juventus. He excelled in Serie A in a strike partnership with David Trezeguet, before joining domestic rivals Inter Milan in 2006, where he was named to the UEFA Team of the Year in both 2007 and 2009. In addition, Ibrahimovi? would finish as the league's top scorer in 2008-09 and win three straight Scudetti. In the summer of 2009, he moved to Barcelona in one of the world's most expensive transfers, before returning to Italy the following season, joining Milan in a deal that made him one of the highest-paid players in the world.[7] He won another Scudetto with Milan in the 2010-11 season, before joining Paris Saint-Germain in July 2012. During his four-season stay in France, Ibrahimovi? 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. He was named in the FIFA World XI for 2013. In October 2015, he became PSG's all time leading goalscorer, and finished his PSG career with 156 goals in 180 competitive matches.[8] After a brief stint with Manchester United, where he captured the UEFA Europa League and two domestic trophies, Ibrahimovi? joined LA Galaxy in 2018.

Ibrahimovi? is one of ten players to have made 100 or more appearances for the Swedish national team, over a 15-year international career. 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 11 times, including 10 consecutive times from 2007 to 2016.[9]

With his playing style and acrobatic finishing compared to Dutch retired striker Marco van Basten, Ibrahimovi? is widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the game and one of the best footballers of his generation.[10][11][12][13] His bicycle kick goal for Sweden against England won the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year.[14] Off the field, he is known for his brash persona and outspoken comments, in addition to referring to himself in the third person.[15][16] In December 2013, Ibrahimovi? was ranked by The Guardian as the third-best player in the world, behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.[17] In December 2014, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter named him the second-greatest Swedish sportsperson ever, after tennis player Björn Borg.[18]

Early life

"I put up photos of Ronaldo in my room. Ronaldo was the man. He was what I wanted to be, a guy who made a difference. [...] Ronaldo was my hero and I studied him online and tried to take in his movements, and I thought I was getting to be an awesome player."

-- From his autobiography, I Am Zlatan.[19]

Ibrahimovi? was born in Malmö, Sweden, on 3 October 1981.[20] He was born to a Muslim Bosniak father, ?efik Ibrahimovi?, who emigrated to Sweden in 1977,[21] and a Catholic Croat mother, Jurka Gravi?, who also emigrated to Sweden where the couple first met.[22] His father was born in Bijeljina (in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina), and his mother in the village of Prkos in ?kabrnja, in the SFR Yugoslavia (modern-day Croatia).[23]

Ibrahimovi? began playing football at the age of six, after receiving a pair of football boots. He alternated between FBK Balkan, a Malmö club founded by Yugoslav immigrants, Malmö BI and briefly BK Flagg football clubs.[24][25] While in his early teens, he was a regular for his hometown club Malmö FF.[24] At the age of 15, Ibrahimovi? was close to quitting his football career, in favour of working at the docks in Malmö, but his manager convinced him to continue playing.[26] As a kid growing up, his hero was Brazilian forward Ronaldo.[27] An avid viewer of Italian football, prolific striker Gabriel Batistuta - a player with similar characteristics to himself - was another player he admired.[28]

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."

-- Ibrahimovi? on turning down Arsenal[15]

Ibrahimovi? 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 Ibrahimovi? to join Arsenal, while Leo Beenhakker (the technical director of Ajax) also expressed interest in the player after watching him in a friendly against Norwegian side Moss FK.[29] On 22 March 2001, a deal between Ajax and Malmö regarding Ibrahimovi?'s transfer to Amsterdam was announced, and in July, Ibrahimovi? officially joined Ajax for 80 million Swedish kronor (EUR8.7 million).[30]

Ajax

Ibrahimovi? received little playing time under manager Co Adriaanse, but when Adriaanse was sacked on 29 November 2001, new coach Ronald Koeman inserted Ibrahimovi? into the starting lineup as Ajax won the 2001-02 Eredivisie title. The next season, Ibrahimovi? 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 Milan in the quarter-finals.[31][32]

Ibrahimovi?'s profile rose when he scored an individual goal against NAC Breda on 22 August 2004 - a slaloming run past five opposition players which the commentator compared with Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane - that was eventually voted the Goal of the Year by Eurosport viewers.[33][34] On 18 August 2004, during an international match against the Netherlands, Ibrahimovi? injured Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart, who later accused Ibrahimovi? of hurting him intentionally. This led to Ibrahimovi?'s sudden sale to Juventus on 31 August.[35]

Juventus

Ibrahimovi? moved from Ajax to Juventus for EUR16 million.[36] He was promptly inserted into the starting eleven due in part to top scorer David Trezeguet's injury problems, and scored 16 goals. The club finished top of Serie A, and in the Champions League they reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out by eventual champions Liverpool.[37] Near the end of the season, Juventus reportedly rejected a EUR70 million bid for him from Real Madrid, which was later revealed to be a publicity stunt initiated by Ibrahimovi?'s agent, Mino Raiola, in order to increase his market value.[34] At the end of his first season in Italy Ibrahimovi? was named Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year, and in November 2005, he was awarded the Guldbollen, a prize awarded to the best Swedish footballer of the year.[38][39]

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 Ibrahimovi? 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 Ibrahimovi? from his contract.[40]

Inter Milan

Ibrahimovi? playing for Inter Milan in 2007

On 10 August 2006, Ibrahimovi? completed a EUR24.8 million move to Inter Milan, signing a four-year-deal,[41] this coming only a few days after 30-year-old midfielder Patrick Vieira had completed his own transfer from Juve to the Nerazzurri.[42] Ibrahimovi? revealed that he had supported Inter when he was young.[43]

Ibrahimovi? made his debut for Inter on 26 August 2006 against Roma in the 2006 Supercoppa Italiana, playing the full 90 minutes as Inter won after extra time.[44] 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.[45] Three days later, in his first Champions League appearance for Inter, Ibrahimovi? was not able to avoid the 1-0 away defeat to Sporting CP as Inter began their European campaign in the wrong way.[46] Later, on 28 October, in his first "Derby della Madonnina" match against cross-town rivals Milan, Ibrahimovi? scored the third Inter goal of the match and also his third league goal of the season in a 4-3 thriller win.[47] In his first season at the club, Ibrahimovi? top scored for Inter in Serie A with 15 goals, as the team won the Scudetto with a record 97 points.[48]

Ibrahimovi? played his 100th Serie A match on 16 September 2007 at the San Siro against Catania, where he appeared as a second-half substitute for Hernán Crespo in an eventual 2-0 win.[49] In 2007, he signed a new contract until June 2013;[50] it was reported that this contract had made him the world's highest paid footballer.[51] On 18 May 2008, Ibrahimovi? 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.[52] 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.[52]

Ibrahimovi? and Mario Balotelli playing against Palermo in 2009

Ibrahimovi? started his third Inter season by winning the Supercoppa Italiana against Roma. After the regular and extra time had finished in a draw, the match went to a penalty shootout where he successfully converted his penalty attempt.[53] He scored his team's only goal in the 2008-09 Serie A opening match against Sampdoria, which finished in a 1-1 draw.[54] On 4 October, during the match against Bologna at home which Inter won 2-1, Ibrahimovi? scored a sensational goal, stunning Francesco Antonioli with an irresistible backheeled shot from Adriano's left-wing cross. The goal was later voted Goal of the Year in Serie A.[55] On 19 October 2008, Ibrahimovi? continued with his solid performances by scoring twice in an impressive 4-0 win at Roma, taking his tally up to five league goals.[56] He then scored another double in the Matchday 12 win against Palermo to help Inter take the lead in the Serie A table by one point.[57] In the next fixture, Ibrahimovi? provided the assist on the only goal in the Derby d'Italia match against Juventus at home, helping Inter to extend their league lead.[58]

Ibrahimovi? ended the 2008-09 Serie A season as the league's top goalscorer with 25 goals,[59] 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.[60]

Barcelona

2009-10 season

"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 Ibrahimovi?, the Guardian". Interview, 6 October 2014

After Inter teammate Maxwell completed his transfer to Barcelona, Barça president Joan Laporta confirmed that there was an agreement in principle between Barcelona and Inter for Ibrahimovi? to join the club in exchange for striker Samuel Eto'o, plus a reported fee of £59 million.[61][62] Ibrahimovi? 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.[63] After Inter agreed terms with Eto'o[64] and Barcelona with Ibrahimovi?,[65] Barcelona announced Ibrahimovi? would arrive on 26 July 2009 and undergo a medical test on 27 July 2009.[66]

Ibrahimovi? playing for Barcelona in a match against Sporting Gijón in 2009

Ibrahimovi? passed his medical and was presented to a crowd of over 60,000 at Camp Nou.[67] He signed a five-year contract,[68] for EUR46 million[68] and the exchange of Eto'o (valued at EUR20 million) and loan of Alexander Hleb (with an option to purchase for a EUR10 million fee),[68] with a EUR250 million release clause,[68] making Ibrahimovi? worth EUR66 million. The Hleb deal, however, collapsed. Eventually, Ibrahimovi? cost Barcelona EUR69.884 million, which included other fees.[69]:173 As per the Inter book, the fee was EUR69.5 million,[70][71][72] but part of the Inter fee (max 5% according to FIFA regulation) were deducted and distributed by Barcelona to youth and young professional clubs of Ibrahimovi?: Malmö FF and AFC Ajax as solidarity contribution.[69][72]

Ibrahimovi? preparing to strike a free kick for Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, with Xavi (right)

Ibrahimovi? started the 2009-10 season with his competitive debut for Barcelona on 23 August 2009 by assisting a Lionel Messi goal, leading them to the Supercopa de España, beating Athletic Bilbao 5-1 on aggregate. In his next competitive match, Barcelona won the 2009 UEFA Super Cup with a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.[73] In his third appearance, he scored his first goal in Barcelona's La Liga season opener against Sporting Gijón in a 3-0 win. Ibrahimovi? scored in his next four games, thus setting a team record as the only player ever to score in his first five league matches.[74]

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 sending Barcelona to the top of the table.[75] On 7 November, however, he 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.[76] He finished with 11 goals and 4 assists in Barcelona's first 15 league matches. Barcelona capped off 2009 by winning the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes on 19 December 2009.[77]

Ibrahimovi? signing autographs for fans in 2010

Ibrahimovi? scored Barcelona's only goal in the 2009-10 Copa del Rey first leg match of the round of 16 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.[78] His first goal of 2010 came on 14 February against Atlético Madrid. In his next appearance, Ibrahimovi? 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.[79] A calf strain during warmups before the next La Liga match following his return from suspension against Athletic Bilbao ruled Ibrahimovi? out of the second leg 4-1 victory over Arsenal, in which he scored two goals away from home, the return leg of El Clásico against Madrid (which Barcelona won 2-0),[80] and the next league match against Deportivo de La Coruña. He made his return as a substitute in the 82nd minute in a 0-0 away draw against Espanyol on 17 April.[81]

"You bought a Ferrari, but you drive it like a Fiat."

-- Ibrahimovi? disparages Guardiola on how he was used at Barcelona.[82]

Following Barcelona's semi-final defeat to Inter Milan in the Champions League, Ibrahimovi? spoke of how he confronted his coach Pep Guardiola in the changing room. "I yelled: 'You haven't got any balls!' and worse than that I added: 'You can go to hell!' I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he's a spineless coward. He just [...] left, never to mention it again, not a word."[82] He scored his final goal for Barcelona in the 2010 Supercopa de España on 14 August in a 3-1 defeat against Sevilla, and on 25 August, he played his last match for the club against Milan for the Joan Gamper Trophy, after which he claimed to the media that his relationship with Guardiola had started deteriorating and that Guardiola had not spoken to him since February.[83] In his autobiography I Am Zlatan, he states, "'It started well but then Messi started to talk. 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."[82]

2010-11 season: Loan to A.C. Man

On 28 August 2010, A.C. Milan announced via their official website that they had signed Ibrahimovi? for the 2010-11 season. He was loaned out to Milan for the season, with the club having the option to purchase him outright for EUR24 million at the end of the season.[84][85] He signed a four-year deal immediately after successfully passing the medical examinations.[86] Upon signing, Ibrahimovi? said, "This move gives me more adrenaline. I have moved here to win the Champions League with Milan. I want to win the double."[86]

Ibrahimovi? on the ball for A.C. Milan in the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League

Ibrahimovi? made his Milan debut in a 2-0 loss to Cesena on 11 September, in which he missed a penalty late in the match,[87] 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, Ibrahimovi? scored in a 1-0 victory against his former club Inter in the Derby della Madonnina.[88] 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 goalscorer 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.[89] On 12 December 2010, history repeated itself in the game against Bologna after he assisted 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.[10][12][90]

Ibrahimovi? 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.[91] An additional three-match ban was given to Ibrahimovi? in February 2012 in a 2-1 home defeat against Fiorentina for swearing at an assistant referee. Ibrahimovi? stated in his defence that he was talking to himself in frustration.[92] He won his first Scudetto with Milan after a draw against Roma. All agreements between Milan and Barcelona were confirmed on 18 June 2011.[93]

A.C. Milan

2011-12 season

Ibrahimovi? during a Milan game in December 2011

Ibrahimovi? started the new season on 6 August in the 2011 Supercoppa Italiana against city rivals Inter, where he scored the first goal of a 2-1 comeback victory to clinch the first trophy of the season.[94] In the opening league match of the 2011-12 season, Ibrahimovi? scored Milan's first goal of a 2-2 home draw against Lazio.[95] He scored his first Champions League goal of the season on 28 September in a 2-0 home win against Viktoria Plze?,[96] which was followed by another one on 19 October against BATE Borisov in another 2-0 home win.[97] He continued with his solid performances as he scored in a 4-1 home win against Parma and a brace in the team's 3-2 away victory over Roma, ending a successful month of October.[98]

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, Ibrahimovi? scored against his old club to equalise the game at 1-1. Barça eventually pulled away however with Xavi scoring the winning goal for the Catalan giants to make it 3-2 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, Ibrahimovi? 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, he 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.[99]

On 15 February, in the first leg of the Champions League's round of 16, Ibrahimovi? set up both of Robinho's goals and also scored by a spot kick, thus helping Milan win 4-0 over Arsenal.[100] On 3 March, during the 4-0 away win against Palermo, Ibrahimovi? took the lead of the goalscorers table as he scored a first-half hat-trick to take his tally up to 17 goals.[101] He finished the season as Serie A top scorer with 28 goals in 32 matches.[102]

Paris Saint-Germain

2012-13 season

Ibrahimovi? 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 Ibrahimovi? from Milan, having already agreed personal terms with the striker, for a transfer fee of EUR20 million.[103] Valued at EUR180 million, these combined fees eclipsed those commanded by Nicolas Anelka. His three-year contract would see him receive a net annual salary of EUR14 million including bonuses (which would be EUR2 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 Samuel Eto'o.[104][105][106]

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

The following day, Ibrahimovi? signed the contract[107] 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."[108] Ibrahimovi? 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.[109] 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.[110]

"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 Ibrahimovi?[12]

In the opening 2012-13 Champions League Group A match against Dynamo Kyiv on 18 September 2012, Ibrahimovi? 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.[111] On 8 October, Ibrahimovi? became only the third player (after Ronaldinho and Laurent Blanc) to have played in El Clásico in Spain, the Derby della Madonnina in Italy and Le Classique, the derby between Marseille and PSG. 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.[112] On 11 December 2012, he scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 away win against Valenciennes.[113]

In January 2013, Ibrahimovi? was handed the number 10 jersey after the departure of Brazilian winger Nenê. In April 2013, Ibrahimovi? scored in a 2-2 draw against his former club Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. PSG, however, were knocked out on away goals after drawing 1-1 at Camp Nou in the second leg. He ended the season as the assists leader in the 2012-13 Champions League, providing seven assists.[114] On 12 May 2013, Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 title after a 1-0 away win against Lyon, their third title and first since 1994.[115][116] 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.[117] On 20 May, he was named as Ligue 1's Player of the Year by the Union nationale des footballeurs professionnels (UNFP).[118][119]

2013-14 season

Ibrahimovi? training with Paris Saint-Germain in 2013

Ibrahimovi? 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.[120] On 24 September, it was announced that Ibrahimovi? had extended his contract with PSG, which would see him stay at the club until 2016.[121] 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.[122] 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.[123] The goal was later named as Ligue 1's Goal of the Season, as chosen by the public.[123] Four days later, Ibrahimovi? 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 became the 11th player to score four times or more in a Champions League match.[124] The third goal of the four - a 35-yard half volley - was clocked at a speed of 93 mph.[125]

On 27 November, Ibrahimovi? made his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance, scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Olympiacos at the Parc des Princes.[126] On 16 March 2014, Ibrahimovi? scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Saint-Étienne to surpass Carlos Bianchi's club record of 39 goals in a season.[127] On 11 May, he was named Ligue 1's Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.[123] Ibrahimovi? ended the Ligue 1 season as top scorer with 26 goals as PSG won a second consecutive league title.[128] Overall, he scored 41 goals in all competitions, including ten in eight Champions League matches.[129]

2014-15 season

Ibrahimovi? (left) during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London, March 2015

Ibrahimovi? 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.[130] In the first league match of the season, Ibrahimovi? scored twice but also missed an open net and had a penalty saved as PSG drew 2-2 with Reims.[131] Ibrahimovi? scored his first league hat-trick of the season in a match against Saint-Étienne on 31 August.[132] In the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue on 13 January 2015, Ibrahimovi? 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 ten minutes.[133]

On 11 March, Ibrahimovi? 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.[134] Nine days later, he scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Lorient at the Parc des Princes.[135][136][137] 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.[138][139] 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.[140]

2015-16 season

Ibrahimovi? playing against Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, September 2015

On 4 October 2015, Ibrahimovi? scored both goals from penalty kicks in a 2-1 home win over Marseille to overtake Pauleta and become Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading goalscorer with 110 goals in all official competitions.[141] On 25 November, Ibrahimovi? captained PSG on his return to hometown club Malmö FF in the group stage of the 2015-16 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.[142] In scoring twice in PSG's 3-0 win over Nice on 4 December 2015, Ibrahimovi? beat Mustapha Dahleb's previous record of 85 goals to become the club's all-time top goalscorer in the French first division.[143] On 16 February 2016, in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Chelsea at home, Ibrahimovi? scored the opener in the 39th minute with a free kick to help his team win 2-1.[144] This was Ibrahimovi?'s 116th appearance in the Champions League, meaning that he overtook Carles Puyol to enter the competition's all-time top ten appearance makers.[145] Four days later, Ibrahimovi? 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.[146]

On 9 March, in the second leg of PSG's Champions League tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Ibrahimovi? 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.[147] With this goal, he became the 14th player to score 50 or more goals in UEFA club competitions.[148] 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.[149] His nine-minute hat-trick was the fastest in Ligue 1 history.[150] 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 would he stay.[151] On 16 April, Ibrahimovi? 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.[152] 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.[153] On 8 May 2016, Ibrahimovi? was named UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Season for the third consecutive year.[154]

Ibrahimovi? made his final Ligue 1 appearance for PSG against Nantes at the Parc des Princes on 14 May 2016, scoring twice in a 4-0 victory to become 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. Ibrahimovi? 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 tenth minute as fans gave Ibrahimovi? - whose PSG shirt was number 10 - a standing ovation. He was also cheered just before the final whistle, holding his two sons in his arms. They had run onto the pitch moments earlier, wearing number 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.[155][156] On 21 May 2016, Ibrahimovi? 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 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 Marseille's all-time record of ten Coupe de France titles.[157][158] His record as PSG's all-time top scorer was surpassed by his former strike partner Cavani in January 2018.[159]

Manchester United

2016-17 season

Ibrahimovi? prior to a Europa League game at Old Trafford in September 2016

On 1 July 2016, Ibrahimovi? 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.[160][161] His salary was reported to be £200,000 per week.[162] He was handed the number 9 jersey ahead of the 2016-17 season.[163] On 7 August, Ibrahimovi? scored the match-winning goal for Manchester United in the 2016 FA Community Shield, rising above Wes Morgan to head past Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in a 2-1 victory.[164] This was his record tenth domestic super cup.[165] In his Premier League debut one week later, he scored with a long-range strike in the 3-1 away win at Bournemouth on the opening day.[166] On 20 August, he scored both goals; a header in the first half and a penalty in the second, to beat Southampton 2-0 on his home debut.[167] On 6 November, he scored twice in a 3-1 away win against Swansea City; his first was the 25,000th goal in Premier League history. He was later booked, picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, ruling him out of the league game at home against Arsenal on 19 November.[168] On 5 February 2017, Ibrahimovi? scored his 15th league goal of the season and 20th in all competitions in a 3-0 away win against Leicester City, becoming the oldest player to manage at least 15 goals in a single Premier League season at the age of 35 years and 125 days.[169][170]

Ibrahimovi? celebrates after scoring for Manchester United against Zorya Luhansk in a UEFA Europa League group stage match in December 2016

On 16 February, Ibrahimovi? registered his first Manchester United hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Saint-Étienne in the Europa League Round of 32.[171] On 19 February, he made his first FA Cup appearance, coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute and scoring the winner in a 2-1 fifth round win against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.[172] Exactly a week after his FA Cup debut, Ibrahimovi? scored two goals, a free-kick and a header (the winning goal), in the 2017 EFL Cup Final to clinch United's fifth League Cup and to win his second trophy with the club.[173] On 7 March, Ibrahimovi? was suspended for three matches by The Football Association for violent conduct after elbowing Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford three days earlier.[174] Later on 13 April, Ibrahimovi? was included in the six player shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year.[175] On 20 April, Ibrahimovi? sustained serious ligament damage in his right knee in a Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht at Old Trafford. Several sources reported that the injury would sideline the player until at least the end of the 2016-17 season.[176] He decided not to accept any wages from the club whilst he regained fitness.[177]

Ibrahimovi? won his first major European title when Manchester United defeated Ajax in the Europa League Final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, before being named in the UEFA Europa League squad of the season.[178] At the end of the season, it was announced that Manchester United would release Ibrahimovi? at the end of his contract on 30 June 2017,[179] although they later confirmed that they were in talks with Ibrahimovi? to re-sign him for the latter half of the 2017-18 Premier League season.[180]

2017-18 season

On 24 August 2017, it was announced that Ibrahimovi? had signed a new one-year contract with Manchester United. It was also announced that he would be wearing number 10 in his second season with the team.[181] Returning earlier than expected after seven months out injured, he stated, "Lions don't recover like humans!".[182] Ibrahimovi? made his return for the club on 18 November, replacing Anthony Martial as a substitute in a 4-1 home win against Newcastle United.[182] The following week, he became the first ever player to feature for seven clubs in the Champions League when he came on as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Basel.[183] In his first start of the season on 20 December, Ibrahimovi?'s first goal of the season came as he scored a free-kick in a 2-1 loss against Bristol City in the quarter-final of the EFL Cup.[184] On 22 March 2018, Manchester United announced that Ibrahimovi? had agreed to the termination of his contract.[185]

LA Galaxy

2018 season

On 23 March 2018, Ibrahimovi? signed for Major League Soccer (MLS) club LA Galaxy.[186] He made his debut on 31 March, as a substitute against Los Angeles FC in the inaugural El Tráfico derby, where he scored twice, including a 45-yard (41 m) half volley and a header in stoppage time that led to the Galaxy winning 4-3.[187] After his match-winning performance, Ibrahimovi? said, "I heard the crowd saying 'We want Zlatan, we want Zlatan', so I gave them Zlatan."[188] He scored twice for the Galaxy in a 3-2 defeat to FC Dallas on 30 May; however he railed against his team, saying "Every game we shouldn't be losing two or three goals and then you have to catch the game and try to win. This is not the game; this is absolutely not the game. Even if you are in MLS or Premier League, wherever, it doesn't work like that. We need to be the leading team and play from there, not to catch the goal all the time, so obviously it's not good."[189]

He scored twice against both Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes in June and July,[190][191] before scoring a penalty in a 4-0 win against Columbus Crew on 8 July.[192] Ibrahimovi? scored his 12th league goal to help his side defeat Philadelphia Union with a 3-1 victory on 22 July.[193] He scored his first hat-trick in the MLS the following week in a 4-3 win against Orlando City, with his three goals inside 24-second-half minutes helping Galaxy to overcome a 2-1 deficit.[194] On 15 September, he scored his 500th professional career goal for club and country with another acrobatic strike in a 5-3 away defeat against Toronto FC.[195] Post match, Ibrahimovi? stated he was "happy for Toronto because they'll be remembered as my 500th victim".[6] Scoring with an acrobatic flick with his back to goal, in August 2019 it was nominated for the 2019 FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year.[196]

2019 season

Ibrahimovi? with the LA Galaxy in 2019

Ibrahimovi? was named team captain ahead of the 2019 season.[197][198] On 2 March 2019, he scored a goal on the opening day of the new season in a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire.[199] On 31 March, in his second appearance of the season, Ibrahimovi? scored two goals from the penalty spot, including one Panenka-style, in a 2-1 home win over Portland Timbers. With this he reached 515 career goals, overtaking fellow countryman Gunnar Nordahl to become the Swedish player with most goals in history.[200][201] On 20 July, Ibrahimovi? scored a perfect hat-trick against Los Angeles FC to win the match 3-2, following a spat on whether Ibrahimovi? is the best player in the MLS, compared to Los Angeles FC player, Carlos Vela.[202]

International career

Early career and 2002 World Cup

Ibrahimovi? was eligible to represent Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatia at international level; he chose Sweden.[203] 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.[204][205] On 7 October 2001, he played his first competitive match, a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, scoring his first ever international goal in a 3-0 win as Sweden topped their group to qualify for the upcoming tournament.[206][207][208]

Ibrahimovi? was part of the Sweden squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea and Japan, who were eliminated at the round of 16 by newcomers Senegal.[209]

Euro 2004 and 2006 World Cup

Ibrahimovi? in action for Sweden in June 2006

Sweden qualified for UEFA Euro 2004 as group winners, with Ibrahimovi? scoring three goals throughout the qualifying campaign.[210] In Sweden's opening group match of Euro 2004 against Bulgaria on 14 June, Ibrahimovi? assisted one of Freddie Ljungberg's goals and later scored from a penalty in a 5-0 win.[211] In the following match against Italy on 18 June, he scored an 85th-minute equaliser with a back-heel lob to seal a 1-1 draw and was named Man of the Match;[212][213] the goal was later named the best goal of the tournament.[214] Sweden and Denmark subsequently sealed a place in the knockout round on direct encounters following a 2-2 draw in their final group match, despite a three-way five-point tie with Italy, with Sweden topping the group.[215] In the quarter-finals against the Netherlands, he missed a penalty in the resulting shoot-out following a 0-0 draw after extra-time, as Sweden were eliminated from the competition.[216]

During the 2006 World Cup qualification campaign, Ibrahimovi? scored four goals in a 7-0 victory away to Malta on 4 September 2004.[217] He did not score during the 2006 World Cup finals, as Sweden were knocked out in the round of 16, this time by Germany.[218]

Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup qualifying

Ibrahimovi? 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 Ibrahimovi? 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,[219] and returned for Sweden's loss to Northern Ireland on 28 March. He did not score in any of the 12 qualifying matches. Ibrahimovi? was awarded the 2007 Swedish Golden Ball as the "Country's Top Player of the Year".[220]

Ibrahimovi? ended his international goal drought, which had lasted for over two years, against Greece in Sweden's Euro 2008 opener on 10 June 2008, in which he was named Man of the Match,[221][222] also scoring in the next match against Spain four days later.[223] He finished the tournament with two goals as Sweden were eliminated in the group stage by Russia.[224] Ibrahimovi? scored a goal in a 4-0 win against Malta on 10 June 2009 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier.[225] 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,[226] although Sweden ultimately failed to qualify for the tournament, finishing third in their qualifying group.[227]

Euro 2012

Ibrahimovi? playing for Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012

Ahead of the Euro 2012 qualification, Ibrahimovi? was named team captain on his return to the national team by manager Erik Hamrén.[228] 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 ten men for over an hour.[229] His next goals came in the form of a hat-trick against Finland, whom they beat 5-0.[230]

At the Euro 2012 finals, Ibrahimovi? scored the opening goal in Sweden's first game of the tournament, a 2-1 defeat against hosts Ukraine.[231] He then scored with a volley, later considered the goal of the tournament,[232] to open the score in Sweden's 2-0 win against France in the last group match; he was later named Man of the Match.[233] Despite the victory, Sweden were knocked out of the competition in the group stage.[234] Although Sweden suffered a group stage elimination, Ibrahimovi? was named to the Team of the Tournament for his performances.[235]

2014 World Cup qualifying

In October 2012, Ibrahimovi? 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.[236] It was the first time in its history that the German national team had not won a match after leading by four goals.[237]

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.[238][239] 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".[240] It would win the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year.[14]

On 14 August 2013, Ibrahimovi? 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.[241] Ibrahimovi? 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.[242] Ibrahimovi? summarised the defeat by saying: "One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch."[243]

Sweden's top scorer, Euro 2016 and retirement

Ibrahimovi? (pictured in September 2015 before a game against Russia) retired from international football after Euro 2016

On 4 September 2014, Ibrahimovi? 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.[244] On 8 September, he made his 100th appearance for Sweden in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Austria at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna.[245]

On 14 November 2015, Ibrahimovi? scored the winning goal for Sweden in a 2-1 victory in the home leg of the 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 Euro 2016 finals.[246] Ibrahimovi? scored 11 goals during the qualifying phase, making him its second-top goalscorer after Poland's Robert Lewandowski.[247] On 11 May 2016, Ibrahimovi? 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.[248] Sweden finished in last place in their group and as a result were eliminated along with seven other teams in the group stage.[249] On 21 June 2016, Ibrahimovi? announced that he would retire from international football immediately after Sweden's last match at Euro 2016.[250]

In November 2017, after Sweden clinched qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia by defeating Italy in the second qualifying round,[251] there was speculation about a possible return of Ibrahimovi? to the national team.[252][253] Ibrahimovi? himself expressed his wish to represent Sweden in the World Cup.[254][255][256] However, in April 2018, Sweden manager Janne Andersson stated that Ibrahimovi? will not be called-up for the World Cup, thus ending any possibility of a return.[257] Later in June, Ibrahimovi? blamed the Swedish media for his World Cup absence.[258]

Style of play

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

-- Downplaying the influence of his background, Ibrahimovi? describes his unique playing style[259]

Ibrahimovi? has been described by ESPN as being "good in the air, quick, 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."[10][260] A versatile and well-rounded footballer, from a tactical standpoint, Ibrahimovi? is capable of playing anywhere along the front line, due to his ability to both create and score goals for his team, although he is most often deployed as a striker, due to his composure and eye for goal.[260][261][262] He has also functioned in a more creative playmaking role at times, as a supporting forward or even as a number 10, in particular in his later career, after losing some of his pace and stamina with age; this deeper position allows him to drop into midfield to pick up the ball, where he can utilise his technical ability, vision, passing, and movement to create space and provide assists for teammates.[263][264][265]

Ibrahimovi? with the ball for Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012

While naturally right-footed, Ibrahimovi? is a powerful and accurate striker of the ball from both inside or outside the penalty area with either foot,[262][266][267] and is also known for his accuracy from penalties and dead ball situations.[268][269] An accurate finisher with his head as well as with his feet,[270] his height, elevation, and strength often give him an advantage at winning aerial challenges, and also allow him to function as a "target man";[265][271][272] despite his large stature, Ibrahimovi? is uncommonly agile for a player of his size,[273] and his athleticism and ability in the air have seen him score several goals from acrobatic strikes and volleys throughout his career, which earned him the monicker Ibracadabra in the Italian media.[274][275][276] In spite of his size and physique, Ibrahimovi? possesses excellent technique and ball control, which, coupled with his balance, power, and physicality, enables him to hold up the ball well with his back to goal, retain possession, and link up with other players;[10][262][264] he has also been praised by pundits for his creativity and dribbling skills.[260][277]

Ibrahimovi? celebrates after scoring with an acrobatic volley against France in June 2012. Like his idol Ronaldo, Zlatan often celebrates scoring a goal with both arms outstretched.[278]

Due to his prolific goalscoring, consistency, and spectacular strikes,[260][262][279] Ibrahimovi? 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;[280] he has also drawn praise from managers and teammates for his leadership and longevity, as well as his fitness, professionalism, and dedication in training.[264][281] Although he has been criticised for his work-rate in big matches, in particular in his youth,[10] throughout his career 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 the Manchester Derby and North-West Derby in England, as well as in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Euro Championship games, against some of the strongest opponents in football, also winning titles in several countries;[282][283][284] he is the only player to have scored for six clubs in the Champions League.[285] Known for his extroverted personality, he has been criticized for his arrogance, aggression and rebellious character.[260][261] Ibrahimovi? has frequently been compared to Dutchman Marco van Basten, due to their similar playing style and proclivity for scoring from powerful shots and volleys;[261] despite this comparison, Ibrahimovi? has stated that his main influence was his idol, former Brazilian forward Ronaldo, whom he regards as the greatest player of all time.[27]

Controversies

Ibrahimovi? in 2009

Ibrahimovi? 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 Ibrahimovi? of deliberately injuring him during the game. Ibrahimovi? responded by threatening to break both of van der Vaart's legs.[286] Ibrahimovi? also punched Ajax teammate Mido in the dressing room after the latter had thrown a pair of scissors at him.[286]

During his spell at Barcelona, Ibrahimovi? had a falling-out with coach Pep Guardiola, culminating in a dressing room incident in which Ibrahimovi? threw a training-kit box across the room and screamed insults at Guardiola. Guardiola eventually refused to speak to Ibrahimovi? and loaned him out to Milan.[287] Barcelona vice president Carles Vilarrubi further revealed that Ibrahimovi? had threatened to publicly beat up Guardiola if he was not released to Milan.[288]

Ibrahimovi? (pictured at PSG in 2012) courted controversy while at the club, for abuse of match officials and for on-field violence against opposition players.

In 2010, Ibrahimovi? was involved in a training-ground fist-fight with Milan teammate Oguchi Onyewu, after Ibrahimovi? made a two-footed tackle on him, followed by a headbutt. They were separated and the session prematurely abandoned, with Ibrahimovi? having suffered a broken rib in the fracas. Both players had accused one of insulting the other.[286][289] In March 2011, Ibrahimovi? was given a three-match ban for punching Bari defender Marco Rossi in the stomach during a game.[290] He received another three-match ban in February 2012 for slapping Napoli player Salvatore Aronica.[291] In 2011, Ibrahimovi? kicked teammate Antonio Cassano in the face while Cassano was speaking to reporters,[292] and kicked Milan teammate Rodney Strasser during a training session.[293]

In November 2012 with PSG, he received a two-match ban for kicking Saint-Étienne goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier in the chest.[294][295] In December 2012, Ibrahimovi? was accused by Lyon defender Dejan Lovren and president Jean-Michel Aulas of deliberately stamping on Lovren's head.[296] In February 2013, UEFA handed Ibrahimovi? a two-match ban for stamping on Valencia winger Andrés Guardado.[297][298] In March 2013, PSG winger Lucas claimed that Ibrahimovi? regularly insulted teammates, stating, "He always asks for the ball and insults a lot. He is sometimes a bit arrogant and complains."[299] Lucas later claimed, however, that the interview was twisted and badly translated.[300] In May 2013, Ibrahimovi? was filmed screaming at PSG sporting director Leonardo after the club's title victory.[301]

Lyon coach Hubert Fournier accused Ibrahimovi? of abusing officials, stating in January 2015 that "all the referees in this league get insulted by this person".[302] Two months later, after a loss by PSG in a Ligue 1 match, Ibrahimovi? 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,[303][304] and Ligue 1 imposed a four-match ban.[305]

Ibrahimovi? at a press conference in Qatar in 2013

Ibrahimovi? has additionally engaged in multiple incidents while with the national team. After Sweden's 1-0 victory over the Faroe Islands in October 2012, Faroes captain Fróði Benjaminsen accused Ibrahimovi? of foul play and insults, describing him as "arrogant", "childish", "ignorant", and a "dirty player".[306] In December 2015, French sports daily L'Équipe branded Ibrahimovi? and Cristiano Ronaldo the "most arrogant" footballers in the world.[307] Ibrahimovi? was additionally caught on camera kicking teammate Christian Wilhelmsson during training.[293][308]

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 the treatment of, male and female footballers. His 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.[309] Ibrahimovi?'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."[309] Coach Pia Sundhage replied that his comments were "sad and unfortunate" and epitomised "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."[309]

In April 2016, Mino Raiola announced that Ibrahimovi? would be suing Swedish trainer Ulf Karlsson over doping claims.[310] According to Expressen, Karlsson cited Ibrahimovi?'s "unnatural" and "rapid weight gain" during his stint with Juventus.[311] 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."[310]

In April 2019, Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha accused Ibrahimovic of foul play and threats to injure him during a game, calling him "arrogant", "disrespectful", and "a complete thug".[312][313][314] In May 2019, Ibrahimovi? received a two-match ban for violent conduct, after choking NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.[315][316] In July 2019, Ibrahimovi? made controversial remarks about the level of play in the MLS, describing himself as "a Ferrari among Fiats" and "by far the best player" in the league.[317][318]

Personal life

Ibrahimovi? inscription on the Walk of Fame in his hometown Malmö

Ibrahimovi? 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 outside Los Angeles, although he still has a home in Malmö where he spends his summers. Ibrahimovi? received an honorary black belt in taekwondo; he attended classes at the Malmö Taekwondo club Enighet ("Unity") as a child.[319] Ibrahimovi? is fluent in five languages: Swedish, Bosnian, English, Spanish and Italian.[320][321] He has stated that he is raised as a Catholic.[322][323][324]

The name "Zlatan" was trademarked in May 2003 at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office for "most likely being perceived as Zlatan Ibrahimovi?", which meant that he received exclusive rights to the name for certain products, including sporting goods, clothing, and shoes.[325] Ibrahimovi? 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.[326] He 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, Ibrahimovi?, 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.[327] In 2008, he donated new Nike kits to his youth club, FBK Balkan.[328]

An ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme, Zlatan appears at the global awareness campaign "805 million names" launch with its founder Marina Catena in 2015

In a February 2011 interview, Ibrahimovi? stated that the boxer Muhammad Ali is one of his role models, going on to say: "One of my idols in sport and outside the sport also [sic]...he believed in his [principles] and he never gave [them] up."[329] While in Malmö with the national team in September 2012, Ibrahimovi? was honoured with the inscription of his name on the city's "Walk of Fame of Sports".[330] The Swedish Post Office issued a set of five postage stamps featuring Ibrahimovi? in March 2014.[331] Ibrahimovi? features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, and was the fourth highest rated player in FIFA 15.[332]

On 11 August 2014, Ibrahimovi? 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, Ibrahimovi? responded, "What the hell are you going to do with a shirt? How much is it to go?".[333][334] In a league match against Caen on 14 February 2015, Ibrahimovi? 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.[335]

Active on social media, Zlatan has over 35 million Instagram followers, the most for a person from Sweden.[336] Independent Swedish film production company Auto Images released the sports documentary Becoming Zlatan in February 2016 which follows Ibrahimovi? through his formative years with Malmö FF and Ajax all the way to his breakthrough with Juventus 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.[337] He does not drink alcohol.[338]

Religious and social background

Ibrahimovi? was born to a Bosniak Muslim father, ?efik Ibrahimovi?, and a Croat Catholic mother, Jurka Gravi?; his parents were immigrants to Sweden from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and met for the first time in Sweden. Ibrahimovi?'s parents divorced when he was a child, and although his upbringing was divided between them, he spent more time with his father: "I had time with my mother but I really lived with my father."[339][340] He has said in a 2012 interview with PSG that: "My father is Muslim, my mother is Catholic, but none of that has anything to do with football. I received a special education. I'm me and football is a religion in its own right, and everyone is welcome..."[341] In an interview with CNN on 24 November 2015, he stressed that his Muslim background was "not a factor" in fans' perception of him: "For me, it didn't change (anything) because my father is Muslim and my mother is Catholic... 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."[342] Nevertheless he later described himself as a "deeply faithful Catholic".[343]

The Malmö-based television presenter Teddy Landén, who was interviewed for the same documentary, noted Ibrahimovi?'s choice of shirt name following his 2001 transfer to Ajax: "You can see that just the fact that when he [emerged] in the professional [football] world [at Ajax], from Sweden, where he was only known [by the name] Zlatan - his first name - he changed so he would have Ibrahimovi? on his shirt, on his jersey, because he wanted to honour his background. Being from a Muslim background, being from a very very low key, very low status background, he really [wanted] to show all the kids from Rosengård [and] from Malmö in general: 'If I can do it, you can do it.'"[344]

Body art

His surname is tattooed in Arabic on the back of his right arm, the names of his sons Vincent and Maximilian on his right arm. He has the common Buddhist "Five Deva Faces Yantra" representing wind, water, fire, creative perception and space, arranged in a way believed to ward off illness and injury, on his lower back. Another Buddhist tattoo, a "Yant Prajao Khao Nirote" is a protective emblem intended to end the suffering of a family, is on his upper right arm. The phrase 'Only God can judge me' is tattooed on his rib cage, said to reflect the player's 'religious and rebellious' nature, taken from 2Pac. He also has a feather, a Koi fish, Polynesian tribal, and ace of hearts and clubs.[345]

Career statistics

Club

As of match played 16 September 2019[346][10]
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental1 Other2 Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Malmö FF 1999 Allsvenskan 6 1 -- -- -- -- 6 1
2000 Superettan 26 12 3 2 -- -- -- 29 14
2001 Allsvenskan 8 3 4 0 -- -- -- 12 3
Total 40 16 7 2 -- -- -- 47 18
Ajax 2001-02 Eredivisie 24 6 3 1 -- 6 2 -- 33 9
2002-03 Eredivisie 25 13 3 3 -- 13 5 1 0 42 21
2003-04 Eredivisie 22 13 1 0 -- 8 2 -- 31 15
2004-05 Eredivisie 3 3 -- -- -- 1 0 4 3
Total 74 35 7 4 -- 27 9 2 0 110 48
Juventus 2004-05 Serie A 35 16 0 0 -- 10 0 -- 45 16
2005-06 Serie A 35 7 2 0 -- 9 3 1 0 47 10
Total 70 23 2 0 -- 19 3 1 0 92 26
Internazionale 2006-07 Serie A 27 15 1 0 -- 7 0 1 0 36 15
2007-08 Serie A 26 17 0 0 -- 7 5 1 0 34 22
2008-09 Serie A 35 25 3 3 -- 8 1 1 0 47 29
Total 88 57 4 3 -- 22 6 3 0 117 66
Barcelona 2009-10 La Liga 29 16 2 1 -- 10 4 4 0 45 21
2010-11 La Liga -- -- -- -- 1 1 1 1
Total 29 16 2 1 -- 10 4 5 1 46 22
A.C. Milan (loan) 2010-11 Serie A 29 14 4 3 -- 8 4 -- 41 21
A.C. Milan 2011-12 Serie A 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 Ligue 1 34 30 2 2 1 0 9 3 -- 46 35
2013-14 Ligue 1 33 26 2 3 2 2 8 10 1 0 46 41
2014-15 Ligue 1 24 19 3 4 3 3 6 2 1 2 37 30
2015-16 Ligue 1 31 38 6 7 3 0 10 5 1 0 51 50
Total 122 113 13 16 9 5 33 20 3 2 180 156
Manchester United 2016-17 Premier League 28 17 1 1 5 4 11 5 1 1 46 28
2017-18 Premier League 5 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 -- 7 1
Total 33 17 1 1 6 5 12 5 1 1 53 29
LA Galaxy 2018 Major League Soccer 27 22 0 0 -- -- -- 27 22
2019 Major League Soccer 25 26 0 0 -- -- -- 25 26
Total 52 48 0 0 -- -- -- 52 48
Career total 569 367 43 31 15 10 139 56 16 5 782 469

1Includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup / Europa League matches.
2Includes Johan Cruyff Shield, Supercoppa Italiana, Supercopa de España, Trophée des Champions, FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup matches.

International

Source:[347]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
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 8 3
2012 11 11
2013 11 9
2014 5 3
2015 10 11
2016 5 0
Total 116 62

Honours

Club

Ajax[348]

Juventus[348]

Inter Milan[348]

Barcelona[348]

A.C. Milan[348]

Paris Saint-Germain[348]

Manchester United[348]

Individual

Achievements

Records

Overall

Barcelona

  • The only player to score in his first five league matches.[74]

Paris Saint-Germain

  • Second top goalscorer in official competitions (October 2015 - January 2018)[141][159]
  • Only Paris Saint-Germain player to be top goalscorer in three Ligue 1 seasons (2012-13, 2013-14, 2015-16)[141]
  • Most Ligue 1 goals in a season: 38 in 2015-16 season[451][452]
  • Fastest Ligue 1 hat-trick: 9 minutes (vs. Troyes, 13 March 2016)[453]
  • Longest goalscoring run in Ligue 1: 9 matches in 2015-16 season (shared with Vahid Halilhod?i?)[141]
  • Most goals scored in a single season: 50 in 2015-16 season

Manchester United

Premier League

Sweden

Ibrahimovi? (seen here in 2013) played for the Sweden national team from 2001 until 2016, and is currently the Swedish all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals

Discography

Singles

Year Album Peak positions
SWE
2014 "Du gamla, Du fria"
(Zlatan featuring Day)
(produced by Max Martin)
[459]
13

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Dani Alves has won 38 trophies in his career,[3] whilst Andrés Iniesta has 35 trophies to his name (32 with Barcelona[4] and three with Spain).
  2. ^ But Ibrahimovi? was the first Manchester United player in the Premier League format.

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