Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice for Manchester United in Sunday’s 3-2 EFL Cup final win over Southampton as the Swede bagged his 32nd trophy.
Last season, Ibrahimovic scored 46 goals for Paris Saint-Germain as the French club stormed to a fourth successive league title. And as he says, there is only one Zlatan…
He is part of that exulted class of sport star identifiable by their first name alone — Zlatan. A Swedish striker renowned the world over, Ibrahimovic has enjoyed a stellar career. An undeniable talent, he is as famous for his unique view on the world as he is for his soccer skills.
“Ibra,” began playing football in Malmo, Sweden, before later signing for the city’s professional team. Here, he’s pictured there in 2007 with children hoping to emulate the local hero.
Now 35, he’s never been short of self-confidence, even as a 17-year-old who was offered a trial with Arsenal. “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger asked me to have a trial when I was 17,” he wrote in his book. “I turned it down. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”
His career has seen him play for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, winning trophies in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France and England.
The Swede spent one season at Spanish club Barcelona — scoring 21 goals in 41 games for the Catalans. But he struggled to get along with the club’s revered coach Pep Guardiola. In his book, Ibrahimovic described how players were supposedly banned from driving super cars to training.
Ibrahimovic joined PSG from AC Milan in 2012. He spearheaded the club’s rise to the upper echelons of European football, which has been funded by Qatar Sports Investments.
Arguably the finest goal of Ibrahimovic’s career arrived in Sweden’s 4-2 win over England in 2013. From 30 yards out, he performed a spectacular bicycle kick, which looped over goalkeeper Joe Hart and was subsequently named goal of the year.
Ibrahimovic prolonged his international career by helping his country secure a place at Euro 2016, at the expense of Denmark. Sweden won a two-legged playoff 4-3 on aggregate.
The Swedish Postal Service honored the country’s finest footballer with a range of his own stamps, released in 2014.
Despite being one of football’s biggest stars, Ibrahimovic is a family man off the pitch — raising two children with his wife, Helena Seger.
Behold the “Zlatan burger,” a mountain of meat dedicated to the Swede. The $41 monster was the brainchild of French cafe manager Jean-Philippe Grandin.