The son of the Bosnian caretaker and a Croatian cleaner, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born in Malmo in 1981. A rebellious child he was caught shoplifting as a young boy and a school teacher described him as easily in the top five most unruly pupils we’ve ever had. He signed his first contract with local side Malmo aged 15 and made his debut for the first team three years later. Then Ajax came calling, he moved to Amsterdam after rejecting a trial at Arsenal on the advice of a Malmo coach not as the story goes. Zlatan never said he “doesn’t do auditions” to Arsene Wenger.
Life wasn’t easy, initially he spent his first paycheck on a car and then realized he didn’t have enough money for food. Luckily Maxwell, the Brazilian defender, took him in and fed him. He won two league titles with Ajax but the real success started with Juventus where he went when the Dutch club sought to sell him following an argument with Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutchman midfielder accused Ibrahimovic of deliberately hurting him in an international game. Zlatan threatened to break both of his legs. With Juventus he won two Serie A titles but both were revoked after the Calciopoli scandal.
It was in Turin that he developed into a world-class player. When the club were relegated to Serie B Ibrahimovic moved to Inter Milan with whom he won a further three titles. The second was the most dramatic. Injured for most of the season, a half fit Zlatan was on the bench for the final game of the season against Parma. With Inter Milan needing a win in torrential rain to claim the title, he came on in the second half and scored twice to win the Scudetto. In 2009 he made what would turn out to be an ill-fated move to Barcelona, in exchange for £59 million and Samuel Eto’o.
He won the league title and scored 21 goals in one season there but he didn’t get on with Pep Guardiola. A friend told him it was like Barcelona had bought a Ferrari and were driving it like a Fiat. He moved back to Italy with Milan and naturally they immediately won Serie A. at that point Ibrahimovic had won the last eight league titles he had competed in but the Champions League still eluded him. After two years in Milan, he moved to PSG for around €20 million, taking the total transfer fees paid to him to €180 million. That’s more than any other player in history.
In Paris he collected another four domestic titles, it was around this time that he scored perhaps his most memorable goal, a bicycle kick from 45 yards out for Sweden against England. In 2016 aged 35 and with his contract up, he moved on a free to Manchester United and kept on scoring. Of his 418 career goals, an incredible 224 of them have come after his 30th birthday. Now the Swedish superstar plays in the US with LA Galaxy and continues to score goals for fun!