If you ask the majority of football fans who they think the most entertaining player in the world is, they are overwhelming likely to be either ‘team Ronaldo’ or ‘team Messi’. The attributes these two goliaths of the game possess, with Ronaldo’s tricks, pace, ruthless finishes and the argentine maestros’ dribbling prowess and ridiculous goal scoring record provide substantial rational for this belief.
However ladies and gentleman (I imagine mostly gentleman) there is a third metaphorical camp which I invite you all to reside in, and that is ‘team Ibrahimović’. I can unashamedly say that I like to have my cake and eat it and ‘Ibra’ certainly gives you both the Disney and the explicit, one minute he’ll be singlehandedly winning the French title, giving PSG fans their first championship in nine years the next he’ll be bending Ryan Shawcross over and tearing him a new one.
Firstly and most importantly he is endowed with monumental footballing ability, with bags of goals in the Allsvenskan, Eredivisie, Serie A, La Liga and most recently Ligue One, 269 (cheeky) to date. He’s also racked up 40 goals for his native Sweden, that’s just as many as Owen has for England and who doesn’t like little Michael? Watch this nine minute forty three second video of Zlatan goals; all of them are ridiculously ridiculous.
The one performance that encapsulates the astounding ability that the 6ft5 Swede possess took place on the 14th of November 2012. Roy’s boys (and they were made to look like boys that night) travelled (a word that strikes fear into the hearts of any England fan) to mark the opening of the Swedish 50,000 capacity Friends Arena in Stockholm. Captain fantastic Ibra notched up a four goal haul, strikes which included a smash and grab toe punt amidst the panicking young England defence. Ghosting past a bumbling Shawcross like he wasn’t even there, more than likely ending his international career at the solitary one cap milestone, (the next time the potters skipper will be pulling on the England jersey will be in the Stoke branch of DW sports). A drilled free kick from long range past the blue nose Joe Hart and finally one of my favourite goals of all time, the finish that supports the ‘team Ibrahimović’ standpoint, ‘that’ 30 yard bicycle kick, I’ll say that again in capitals for added emphasis 30 YARD BICYCLE KICK. I would bet my house (I rent) that no other player in world football would attempt a finish like that, even Ronaldo would of taken a touch and shot, reigniting rumours of a return to Manchester (everything he does seems to do this). Messi would have played a one-two with every player on the pitch and then walked it into the net, securing his 1,405 successive ballon d’or.
The added off the field entertainment extras that the long locked assassin (by which he is not commonly known) exhibits really put the icing on the cake for me. When offered an Arsenal trial in 2000, the response from the 16 year old Zlatan was that ‘Zlatan doesn’t do auditions’; all I was concerned about when I was 16 was how to turn myself into a dinosaur! Perhaps more could have been done by Arsène Wenger to convince one of Europe’s most promising young stars to join the Gunners I hear you cry from the rooftops, well lets not go into that now, this is a blog virgins views, not a doctoral thesis on the outdated and flawed arsenal transfer policy.
Here are a few highlights of Ibra’s memorable quotes which will, if anything, tickle you:
A reporter asked “you’ve got some scars on your face, what has happened?”, Zlatan replied “Well…I don’t know…you’ll have to ask your wife about that”.
He also has the time to have digs at ex Aston villa players, having been quoted as saying ‘what John Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”
He is quite the lothario also, in response to a female reporter who questioned Ibra on the rumours that he is gay his response was “Come over to my house with your sister, and I’ll show you who’s gay!”
Loves a beer with the lads! ‘“It was the fault of David Trezeguet, who made me do one drink of vodka after another. I slept in the bathtub. Now I hold my vodka much better.”
Modest. “An injured Zlatan is a pretty serious thing for any team.”
And finally my two personal favourites from his time at Barca: “Then Guardiola started his philosopher thing. I was barely listening. Why would I? It was advanced bullshit about blood, sweat and tears, that kind of stuff.”
“Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought ‘there is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’. I yelled to him: ‘You have no balls!’ and probably worse things than that. I added: ‘You are shitting yourself because of Jose Mourinho. You can go to hell!’ I was completely mad. I threw a box full of training gear across the room, it crashed to the floor and Pep said nothing, just put stuff back in the box. I’m not violent, but if I were Guardiola I would have been frightened.”
What Ronaldo and Messi offer in terms of footballing ability is second to none, but for sheer off the cuff, shoot on sight, don’t give a fuck persona on and off the pitch, look no further than Zlatan Ibrahimović .