Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Sweden's Gift to the World

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is known for his mastery of football and his ego that most football reporters agree bigger than life. However, the Swedish forward has every reason to feel good about himself. He is considered one of the world's greatest football attackers. Besides, he is the most decorated active player globally with 31 trophies in a career that began in 1999.

Zlatan's Early Life

He was born in Malmö, Sweden, in 1981. He is of mixed heritage with a Croatian mother and a Bosnian father. The parents separated when Zlatan was only two, subjecting the future superstar to a life of hardships. However, the hard life did not prevent Zlatan from growing into an agile, tall athlete with apparent soccer talent.

Youth Career

Zlatan had some vibrant youth playing days that commenced at Malmö BI in 1989. However, he did not last long in his first club. In 1991, Zlatan signed with FBK Balkan, staying for four seasons. In 1995, he joined Malmö FF and spent four seasons before transitioning into a professional.

Professional Career

Incidentally, the Swede's professional career kicked off in his hometown, Malmö. He signed his first professional contract with Malmö FF in 1999, helping the second division club leap to division one football the following year. After 40 appearances for the maiden club, Zlatan went to Ajax Amsterdam, where he stayed for three seasons making 74 appearances and scoring 35 goals.

He joined Juventus during the 2004/05 seasons and stayed with the club for two seasons. He appeared for the club a collective 70 times, scoring 23 goals. In 2006, he switched to Juve's rivals Inter Milan, making 88 appearances and scoring 57 goals.

Zlatan in Milan
He joined Barcelona in 2009 for a reported fee of €70 million and stayed with them for only one season. In August 2011, Barcelona loaned him to AC Milan. After a season's loan spell where Zlatan scored 29 goals, the Italian club decided to make the deal permanent in a transaction worth €24 million.

In 2012, Zlatan completed a move to Paris Saint-Germain for a transfer fee of €20 million. Part of the deal included an annual salary of €14 million, making him the second best-paid footballer globally after Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o.

He made 122 appearances for the club, scoring 113 goals throughout the four seasons he spent at the Parisian club.

In 2016, the Swede joined Manchester United as a free agent. The deal offered him a single season's contract with the option of extending it for another year. During his second season at Old Trafford, he became the first player to turn up for the most clubs (seven) in the Champions League.

Like many European players, Zlatan moved to the Major League Soccer, signing for Los Angeles Galaxy in 2019. After a year in the U.S., Zlatan returned to Europe, signing with AC Milan in 2020.

Zlatan for Sweden

International Career

Zlatan started his international career in 1999 when he appeared for his country's Under 18 team. He debuted for Sweden's U21 team two years later, appearing twice during the 2002 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifiers.

His first appearance for the senior team was in a friendly against the Faroe Islands in 2001. He has capped almost 120 times for the senior team and have scored 62 goals so far. After a several years long break from the national team, he re-joined in 2021 at the age of 39, and is still hoping to finish his national team career with a final World Cup in Quatar. If Sweden manage to qualify and he is still fit to play and be in the squad, he will be 41 years old by then.

Personal Life and Personal Image

Zlatan is easily football's most controversial personality. He has had his share of altercations with people both on and off the pitch. Besides, his actions have left several tongues wagging.

He and his Swedish wife, Helena Seger have two children.
Peter Norman is from the green island of Ireland, loves football and Manchester United in particular, where also the great idol Roy Keane had his career. Peter is a trained journalist and likes to write articles and analyses of football.