Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Manchester United were a match made in heaven.
A legend in the eyes of many and a demigod in his own, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had conquered everywhere before he made his long-awaited touch down in the Premier League following years of European conquests.
There are few players in the world that splurge out egotistical nonsense at the rate former Sweden international Ibrahimovic does, but even fewer actually back it up with tangible facts and figures, karate kicks, screamers and flying headers – not least in the same style and consistency as the man in question.
However, at 34-years-of-age the forward was heading into the twilight years of his career when he beamed his talents into the Old Trafford dressing room in 2016, and though he had been prolific in Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain scoring 156 goals in 180 appearances, there may have been some question marks over his ability to adapt to the intensity of Premier League football. How silly of us all to have entertained that idea – even for a minute.
“I feel sorry for the fans – if they’d seen me younger, they’d have seen a different lion,” Ibrahimovic told Manchester United’s official site. “For the Premier League, it would have been dangerous, as I would have eaten them for breakfast; instead, I took them for lunch. But I came: they wanted me, I gave them me and I took over. Been there and done that.”
Indeed, one thing football fans have learned from the past is that players of his thunderous ilk don’t tend to go out with a whimper, and to doubt them, at least in their eyes, is sacrilege. The Swedish netted 29 times in 53 games for Manchester United including the winner in the EFL Cup final and a number of goals leading up to Europa League glory.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has since left Old Trafford swapping Manchester for Los Angeles in 2018, but reflecting on his time at the club it’s clear to see just how much the experience meant to him.
“I would need more time to explain my feelings but let’s start with a big thanks to everybody – what they did was amazing and I hope they are as happy as I am,” he said.
“I gave as much as I could for as long as I could; when I got injured, I got support in a different way. They always stood behind me and my team-mates.
“They are special: everywhere I see red, I think about United. It will remain in history and my career; when I look back at my time with United, I will do it with a smile. I wish them all the best in the future.”
Genuinely one of the greats who will go down in history.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!