On or off the pitch, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always been talked about, during a vast career that began in 1999 and ended this Sunday, June 4, 2023. The 41-year-old striker, who has played for the biggest clubs (Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris SG...), will be remembered as an incredible striker. But also a massive outspokenness, sometimes bordering on correct, and a foolproof humor. Selected pieces of the best punchlines of a colorful character.
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"Remember my name and my face"
In 1999, Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined the professional team of Malmö FF, the biggest club in his hometown. Barely of age, he is already full of talent and knows perfectly where he wants to go. Exuberant, he arrives in the locker room of the "greats" and shamelessly announces to anyone who will listen: "Remember my name and my face. My name is Zlatan Ibrahimovic and I will become the best player in the world!" A certain assurance that has (more or less) been verified.
"Zlatan doesn't audition"
The summer of 2001 saw the departure of the Swede, who signed for Ajax Amsterdam. He favors the Dutch club at Arsenal, where Arsène Wenger made him soft eyes. Problem: the French coach wanted to give him a trial first. "No way. Zlatan does not audition, "said years later the player, who will discover England in 2016 with... Manchester United.
SEE ALSO – Ibrahimovic's top 6 goals at PSG (2012-2016)
"What John Carew does with a ball, I do with an orange"
In the early 2000s, John Carew made a name for himself with Spanish club Valencia and the Norwegian national team. But do not compare the former Lyonnais (2005-07) to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as an ill-informed journalist did. "What he does with a ball, I do with an orange," replied the Swede.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is always in the 1st row to see Messi receive awards"
After the 2012 Ballon d'Or ceremony that crowned Lionel Messi for the fourth consecutive year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10th in the ranking), good prince, could not help but make a nasty tackle to the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo by calling him "a privileged spectator, always in the front row to see Messi receive awards". Having played for FC Barcelona in the 2009-10 season, the Swede has never had trouble recognizing the talent of the Argentine genius.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo, not the best of friends. MASSIMO PINCA
«I'm going to live in the Eiffel Tower and go to parachute training."
The summer of 2012 marks a turning point in the history of the PSG version QSI. A flashy summer transfer window sees the arrival of renowned players like Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and especially Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Presented with great pomp at the Trocadero, the Swede immediately marks his territory with a memorable sentence: "I do not know Ligue 1 well. But Ligue 1 knows who I am... [...] I'm going to live in the Eiffel Tower and go to parachute training.»
"Are you a journalist or cameraman?"
In January 2015, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been living together for a year and a half in attack with Edinson Cavani. The understanding between the two men is not idyllic in Paris. But the Swede doesn't like it when a journalist questions this in a mixed zone. "Are you a journalist or a cameraman?" said Ibrahimovic after 40 seconds of discussion. "Journalist," replies his interlocutor. "So why do you carry a camera? You should have a cameraman, "says the Parisian, who teases him about his "small budget".
"I've never seen such a suck referee in this country"
In March 2015, Paris Saint-Germain lost on the lawn of the Girondins de Bordeaux (3-2) at the mercy, according to the Swedish striker, of a deplorable refereeing. While he returns to the locker room quite uplifted, the Parisian number 10 can not hold back and says: "It's been fifteen years that I play football and I have never seen a referee so null in this country of. This country does not deserve PSG. PSG shouldn't even be in this country, we are too good for this country.»
A statement that will immediately be controversial. "I want to apologize if people were offended," he said. who will assume his words six years later. "Marine Le Pen asked for my expulsion," he recalled in the columns of Corriera della Sera. The next day, I feared the reactions in the street. Instead the French approached me to congratulate me: "Ibra, you're right, it's really a country."»
"I put Sweden on the map of world football. I also did it for the France."
November 2015. Zlatan Ibrahimovic begins his 4th and final season at Paris Saint-Germain. In the middle of the international break, he was asked at a press conference about his place in Swedish and French football. "I put Sweden on the map of world football. I also did it for the France. I'm delighted," he smiles, seventeen years after Les Bleus won the 1998 World Cup.
"I came like a king, I leave like a legend"
"I came like a king, I left as a legend". It is in these terms that Zlatan Ibrahimovic left PSG in the summer of 2016, four years after settling in the capital. A statement full of egotrip that suits to delight its speaker, after 156 goals in 180 matches in the Parisian jersey.
"I came, I saw, I overcame. Now go back and watch baseball."
In November 2019, Zlatan Ibrahimovic informed his followers that his American adventure with the Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) was coming to an end after two very successful seasons on an individual level (53 goals in 58 games). To announce the sad news to a country where football is not a major sport, it is Zlatan in the text: "I came, I saw, I overcame. Thank you LA Galaxy for making me feel alive again. For Galaxy fans, you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You're welcome. The story continues... Now go back and watch baseball.»
"Covid had the courage to challenge me. Bad idea"
Zlatan Ibrahimovic stronger than the virus. The Swedish striker contracted Covid-19 in September 2020, a few months after the pandemic began. Perfect opportunity for a new theatrical statement. "I tested negative for Covid yesterday and tested positive today. I don't have any symptoms or anything. Covid had the courage to challenge me. Bad idea," tweeted the 38-year-old AC Milan player.
"Whistle, whistle! Looking at me is the greatest moment of your year."
This Sunday evening against Hellas Verona (3-1), Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced to the tifosi of San Siro, the den of AC Milan, that he was officially retiring. During his speech, a cloud of whistles came down from the visitors' parking lot. They did not please the Swede and he allowed himself to reframe them: "Whistle, whistle! Looking at me is the greatest moment of your year." A laconic message for the supporters of the Veronese club, who, at the end of the match, were relegated to Serie B.