At 40, Zlatan Ibrahimović has little to prove but, while most of his contemporaries have long since retired, Sweden’s all-time top scorer continues to play at the highest level in AC Milan, which he brought back to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
In this interview, presented by Ferrari, the striker who won domestic titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France, and was also part of Manchester United’s UEFA Europa League-winning squad 2016/17, looks back at how his upbringing in the Malmö suburb of Rosengård set him on the path to success, and how he feels he still has a lot to achieve in his playing career.
Zlatan on Rosengard
I grew up in Malmö, in a small neighborhood called Rosengård. I stayed there until I was 17. I was very rambunctious when I was little. People call this place a ghetto. For me it was heaven because I had everything I wanted. I had friends, I had fun, I was happy. We had a football and football makes people happy. Football was cheap, it was free. I just needed to buy shoes. Even without shoes you could play football. Then, from there, everything just got better and better.
When I got my first contract (with Malmö FF) I suddenly made money doing what I loved. Money didn’t make me happy, but it got easier. So after walking long distances to train, after stealing bikes – which is not nice, but we all do stupid things – I was able to get a driver’s license and a car .
Who is Zlatan?
Born on: October 3, 1981 in Malmö, Sweden
Matches/goals in UEFA club competition: 150/57
UEFA Champions League games/goals: 124/48
Zlatan on Milan at 40
I play with a lot of pleasure for Milan because it’s a club that brought me happiness, that gave me a lot of things, and I think I spent the most years in Milan. among all the clubs I have represented. It was good (to come back to the UEFA Champions League with the club this season). After a tough few years, everyone was super excited and super happy to be back. I think it’s an incredible competition.
I scored some goals which I enjoyed, and I had the opportunity to play against the best teams and the best players in Europe.
What do I think about never having won it? Two things. Winning it would be amazing. Not winning it won’t change me as a player. If I win it, it won’t mean I’ll be a better player, because I’m the better player. It has been proven; the best player does not win everything.
1 UEFA Europa League (Manchester United, 2016/17*)
1 UEFA Super Cup (Barcelona, 2009)
1 FIFA Club World Cup (Barcelona 2009)
11 Championships (Ajax 2001/02 and 2003/04, Inter 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09, Barcelona 2009/10, AC Milan 2010/11, Paris 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015 /16
3 National Cups (Ajax 2001/02, Paris 2014/15 and 2015/16)
*injured for the final
Zlatan on the future
The future remains to be written. I don’t project myself. I don’t want to regret that I quit football and told myself that I could continue playing football, because then I would regret for the rest of my life seeing that I could have continued. I want to play as long as I can. The reality is that I will play until I find better than me, so I keep playing.
I know one day it will stop and I won’t have that adrenaline anymore. This is a problem for all football players because you get adrenaline when playing football. This adrenaline, you will never get it by doing anything else because we are programmed.
Every day we do the same thing. We wake up, we get ready, we train, we eat and we rest. The next day, it’s the same thing. For 20 years, you do these things, and you get adrenaline from them.
So when suddenly you stop, you don’t have that athletic routine anymore, you don’t get adrenaline anymore. And when it stops, you have to start from scratch and start something again.
Zlatan, his advice to young people
I think the most obvious thing is to believe in yourself. “Be happy or happy, never give up”, all those things. It’s easy to say these things, but going through them is the hardest part. Surrounding yourself with positive people and positive energy helps a lot because it transforms things and makes them easier.
When you have negative people around you, they pull you down. It’s like they don’t want you to succeed. So my advice would be this: “It’s easy and anything is possible, but it’s up to you. »