Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or simply Ibra, is a Swedish striker that currently belongs to the ranks of AC Milan. His precise touch, ball control inside the area, speed and powerful shot makes him a very powerful and successful player in front of the goal and one of the most feared top class players in today’s football.
Ibrahimovic had his beginning as a player at the club in his hometown, Malmö FF, but spent some time before as an amateur at FBK Balkan. In 2000, Arsenal FC, tried to hire him and even their coach, Arsène Wenger, went to Sweden to see him in action.
But it was Ajax Amsterdam who acquired him, in 2001, for the sum of 7.8 million Euros. With the club from the Dutch capital he took two times the Dutch league,one cup of the Netherlands and one Dutch Super Cup. Early in his first season he was punished for elbowing a defender. After the success in the Dutch league in 2004 he joined the Italian side of Juventus, for 19 million Euros, at the wish of the then coach Fabio Capello.
He proved to be lethal in the team, when in the first season scored 16 goals in 35 league games. The Bianconeri team, won two Italian leagues, but after the corruption scandal that hit the country’s football which ended with the fall of Turin club, Ibrahimovic switched over to Inter Milan, another club that could win Italian league again. There, he won another Scudetto and the Italian SuperCup. In season 08/09 he was the top goalscorer of Serie A, with 25 goals.
All those nets called the attention of Barcelona, who acquired him in a trade deal with Inter Milan, giving away their most successful striker in the latest years, Samuel Eto’o. He chose the number 9 to be the one showing on his shirt. The trade proved not to be good for Barcelona side, since Eto’o kept on scoring many goals and teaming up really well with Milito in Inter Milan’s team, while Ibra had problems with Barcelona’s coach Josep “Pep” Guardiola.
Zlatan Ibra Ibrahimovich and Gerard Piqué
Polemical shot of Ibra & Piqué
To make things worse, in May 2010, the press released a picture of Ibrahimovic and Barça’s central defender Gerard Piqué in the training ground’s parking lot, speculating that they could have been having an affair. That was strongly denied by both players and rumours calmed down after a while.
Seeing that Zlatan wasn’t happy in the Catalunya capital, both Manchester City and AC Milan started a chase for the Swedish National player. City actually offered the biggest contract ever which would pay him roughly €24 million per year.
In the end, Zlatan chose to join Robinho, Pato and Ronaldinho in his return to Milano, but this time to play for AC Milan. This time, he will be wearing the shirt number 11. On his first match he missed a penalty on Messina’s defeat, but recovered scoring the two goals on Milan’s Champions League debut in season 10/11. Milan went on to win the Serie A title, that being Ibra’s 9th league title in his career.
The coming season wasn’t what the Swede is used to, and was his first one without a title since 2002-2003 with Ajax. Milan came second to a strong Juventus side, and with it, another turn came into Ibra’s life. In the summer of 2012 he was announced as new player by Qatari owned Paris Saint Germain.
Despite having made several strong acquisitions the previous season, the Parisian side wasn’t done, and brought Ibra and Thiago Silva from AC Milan. In their first season as PSG players, they helped the team to reach Champions League quarter-finals and will most likely take the French league title, the 10th national title on Ibrahimovic’s career.
At this moment, Zlatan is being heavily linked with a comeback to Juventus, despite claims coming from the Italian side that they can’t afford the Swede.
Swedish National team
Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Sweden
Swedish fotboll with Ibra
Zlatan was in Sweden for the 2002 World Cup, when he was only 20 years old. His debut was against the Faroe Islands in January 2001. In qualifyers for Euro 2004 he consolidated his position with Henrik Larsson in attack. However, they fell in the quarter-final against the Netherlands on penalties. With the national, Zlatan qualified for the 2006 World Cup, but the Swedish squad was disgracefully eliminated in the second round against Germany.
On Euro 2008 he ended his goal drought of 2 years, scoring a beautiful goal in the debut of your choice to the champions Greece also under another against Spain in the second game of Euro 2008, yet his team lost 2-1 and was eliminated in the first round after losing 2-0 to the selection of Russia.
Sweden wasn’t good enough to qualify to South Africa 2010 World Cup, but a couple years later, the team, a lot with Ibrahimovic’s help, managed to secure a place to play the Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine.
Zlatan had a great tournament, scoring the greatest goal of the tournament against the French and was nominated for the Squad of the Tournament, the only player that wasn’t from a National which got into the quarterfinals.
But the best was still to come. In a friendly between Sweden and England, to inaugurate the new Råsunda in November 2012, Zlatan scored four times in his team’s 4-2 win, the last one being an anthological bicycle kick from outside the box.