Zlatan Ibrahimovic has completed his move to Manchester United, with one of the world’s most talented – and interesting – strikers set to ply his trade in England.
Here are 10 fast facts about the Red Devils’ latest signing…
1. Ibrahimovic may now be blessed with fame and fortune, but he didn’t always have it easy growing up in Malmö. The son of two immigrants, Ibrahimovic nearly gave up football when he was 15 in order to work at the docks, but was convinced not to by his manager at the time.
In 2014, the Swede told The Guardian a heart-warming story of how is father forked out all the money he had for a bed for his son, only for the pair to discover they had no money to transport it home.
Ibrahimovic recounted: “We carried it home between us. It’s fantastic what we did. I had time with my mother but I really lived with my father. One time he gave all his salary so I could travel to a training camp. He couldn’t pay the rent but he did that.”
It has been reported that he bought his first pair of boots for five pounds fifty from under a vegetable counter.
2. As a youngster, Ibrahimovic has said that he was forced to steal bicycles in order to get to training as he did not have any money for transport. According to one story, the young striker arrived late for a match involving his club, FBK Balkan, as he had to ride a bicycle to get there. His team were 4-0 down when he arrived, but Ibrahimovic proceeded to score eight goals as he led his side to victory.
3. In 1999 at the age of 19, Zlatan made his senior debut for Malmö FF. Less than two years later he became the most expensive Scandinavian player at just 20 when he was sold to Ajax 80 million Swedish kronor (€8.7 million).
After a slow start to life at Ajax he burst to life in his second season, netting 21 goals. However, a series of bust ups with his team-mates resulted in a falling out with the club and he was sold to Juventus. On his arrival in Italy he was asked if he was ready to play in the country, to which he replied: “Is Italy ready for Zlatan?”
4. After Juventus’ relegation to Serie B after the Calciopoli scandal, Ibra moved to Inter in 2006, following in the footsteps of his idol, Ronaldo. He made an immediate impact as Inter edged out Roma to win the Serie A title. It was at Inter that he would work with current United boss Jose Mourinho
5. Barcelona was Zlatan’s next stop where he began with a record five goals in his first five matches. Despite winning a plethora of titles, Zlatan’s relationship with manager Pep Guardiola soured and he moved to AC Milan for just €24 million, a move that Barca president Sandro Rosell reportedly called “the worst business” of his life.
6. Paris St-Germain would later splash the cash for the Swede, and in 2012 Ibrahimovic became the first player to score for six different clubs in the Champions League when he scored for PSG, having also found the back of the net for AC Milan, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Ajax.
7. Zlatan arrives at Old Trafford on the back of a career-best domestic season, having scored a Ligue 1-best 38 goals in 31 appearances. In all he scored 50 goals in 51 appearances. Of his time at PSG he recently said he “came like a king, left like a legend”.
8. Ibra and his long-time partner Helena Seger have two children, Vincent and Maximillian. Of his wife’s family, Zlatan explained: “She came from a model family from Lindesberg, one of those families where they say, ‘Darling, would you please pass me the milk?’, whereas we at table mostly we just hurled death threats at each other.”
9. A parody Twitter account @zlatanfacts produces fun ‘facts’ about the striker’s exploits, the best of which were enjoyed by the man himself…
10. Zlatan has become well known for providing some hilarious sound bites. Here are just a few of his best quotes:
“I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am.”
“Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.” – After Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered the then-teenaged Ibrahimovic a trial.
“When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari. If you drive a Ferrari you put premium petrol in the tank, you hit the motorway and you step on the gas. Guardiola filled up with diesel and took a spin in the countryside. He should have bought a Fiat.” – On his relationship with Pep Guardiola.
“There was the thought that this would send me into retirement. I sent their entire country into retirement.” – After his brace against Denmark saw Sweden qualify for Euro 2016 at the Danes’ expense.
An exchange with a reporter ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifying playoffs:
Zlatan: “Only God knows who will go through.”
Reporter: “It’s hard to ask him.”
Zlatan: “You’re talking to him.”