World-class striker with a big personality
Full Name: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Birthdate: October 3, 1981
Place of Birth: Sweden
Playing years: 1989 to Present
Football Club (Current): LA Galaxy
11-time Swedish Footballer of the Year
11-time Guldbollen Awardee
4-time Swedish Male Athlete of the Year
3-time Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year
Swedish Football Personality of the Year (2004)
Serie A Top Scorer (2009, 2012)
Ballon d’Or (2013, 4th place)
FIFA Puskas Awards (2013)
Ligue 1 Goal of the Year (2017)
Alan Hardaker Award (2017)
Notable Skills/Style of Play
– Indirect set-piece threat
– Strong header attempts
– Excellent finishing and ball control
– Accuracy in penalties and deadballs
– Acrobatic strikes and volleys
– Tendency to commit fouls
Malmo Sweden native Ibrahimovic is one of Europe’s prized strikers and has started for eight consecutive league wins. He is a polarizing figure, a temperamental footballer unafraid to act out or say what’s in his mind. In his own account, he used to be a “bicycle thief” and a “bully” before turning pro. He made his debut for Malmo FF in 1999 and helped the club make it to top division the following season. The agile forward then leapt to Dutch team Ajax where he won two championships. A rift with teammate Rafael van der Vaart led to his sudden sale to Italian camp Juventus. His role then changed from striker to getting heavy on the sidelines and play build-up. When The Old Lady got relegated in the aftermath of the Calciopoli Scandal, Ibrahimovic made the move to Inter Milan. For his maiden term in 2006, he scored 15 goals and won the Scudetto with the club. The following year, he played his 100th Serie A match (Inter Milan v Calcio) and netted 17 goals in total. He later earned both the Serie A Footballer of the Year and Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year recognition.
In 2009, Ibrahimovic struck a deal with Barcelona and was then presented to the 60,000 plus-crowd at Camp Nou. He started at Barca by assisting a goal for Lionel Messi in their 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. He went on to score in his first five league matches, setting a team record as the only player ever to achieve the record then. Before signing out of the club, Ibrahimovic revealed strained ties with manager Pep Guardiola. In 2010, Milan officially unveiled the Swedish international as a part of their roster. Ibrahimovic scored his first Milan goals in the Champions League match against Auxerre.
In the latter part of 2010, he hit the net for Milan a seventh time with a powerful over-the-head bicycle kick. Things turned sour when he received a three-match ban after punching Marco Rossi in the stomach, followed by another ban for swearing at an assistant referee. He won his first Serie A title with Milan after a draw against AS Roma.
Ibrahimovic again transferred clubs in 2012, this time in Paris Saint-Germain. He won the Ligue 1 title in 2013 with PSG in the away match against Lyon. He finished the year as Ligue 1’s leading goalscorer with 30 goals. He left PSG in 2016 as the club’s top scorer season with 38 goals. He went on to display his skills in Premier League team Manchester United. He registered his first hat-trick with Man United in Saint-Etienne Europa League Round of 32 fixture. In March 2017, he got suspended for three matches for elbowing Tyrone Mings. Ibrahim claimed his first major European title with Ajax’s defeat in the Europa League final. In March 2018, he agreed to the termination of his contract with the Red Devils.
(See a preview of LA Galaxy’s upcoming MLS match against Orlando City.)
He came, he saw… will he conquer?
What’s left to win for this Swedish striker? There’s still the Major League Soccer title. On March 23, he joined LA Galaxy and first came into the States side field as a substitute. He scored twice (a 45-yard volley and a header) in the derby against Los Angeles FC. After his first-ever MLS win, Ibrahimovic told the press that he heard the crowd saying, “We want Zlatan!”. He has previously railed against his team, stating they must take the lead and not just catch goals every time. In the Galaxy’s winning bout against Philadelphia Union, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was kept in check but managed to tie the game with a clutch assist. He then found the net at 63’ in the middle of the downpour at Talen Energy Stadium. In their recent match against rival LAFC, Ibrahimovic again led the team to fight back, closing the two-goal deficit to a draw. He created the first goal with a cross from Romain Alessandrini at 82’. It was a Houdini act. But then again, that’s what world-class strikers do. They can pick the right moments to turn the game around. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is as special as they come.