Zlatan Ibrahimović: Dare To Dream.
There are few men within the realms of football who can retire and get better as they age. Giggs, Zanetti and Maldini just to name a few. Names you can count with only a hand.
Put Zlatan down for one.
The man’s headlining feature article on his personal website reads: Ibrahimović has won 13 Domestic League Titles in the past 15 Seasons spanning across four different countries in Italy, Spain, France and The Netherlands. It is some record, that I don’t think should ever be repeated again.
The two exceptions?
The first was to Juventus in 2010/2011 where at A.C Milan, they lost out on the title on the final day of the season to an undefeated Juventus from Turin. This was Juventus’ first of five consecutive league titles until Present season since Calciopoli – Where Juve were stripped off two titles (from 2004/05, & 2005/06) for match-fixing. A fault of the Juventus Board, Not the players.
The other being Ligue 1’s first-time champions, Montpellier, where in 2011-12, going into the final Match Day, Montpellier’s game had to be abandoned after 20’ minutes because of crowd trouble. Montpellier would eventually re-emerge onto the pitch against Auxerre away from home, and hung on to clinch a late 2-1 victory – a scintillating moment that denied the sovereign owned Parisian team, (backed by the country of Qatar) their first league title in 20-years.
PSG would eventually go on to win The French League Title in the following season however.
Yet, even as Messi and Ronaldo will tell you. If you don’t win one trophy or another, you will always have your critics.
A final remaining argument of Ibrahimović’s trophy laden career is that he has never won the champions league. Even during his time at Barcelona where he netted 16 goals from 28 league appearances, winning the league title in his only season at The Camp Nou was a ‘disaster’.
His only season in Catalonia would end with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan knocking Barcelona out of the Semi-Finals of the 2009/10 competition defeated in the return leg at Barcelona’s iconic home: The Camp Nou. This was after Inter-Milan took a 3-1 in the first-leg, after a freak volcano incident forced the Barcelona team to travel by train to the San Siro.
The rest of the story follows ‘Ibra’s’ biography where he took the full brunt of the blame for failing to secure the champions league for Barcelona that season, as the club were the incumbent champions having defeated Manchester United 2-0, in Rome, in the 2009 final. From his accounts, he had a falling out with former Barca coach Pep Guardiola leading up to the clash against Inter; for the four months after Christmas.
Now, even after scoring 4-remarkable goals against England at the opening of The Swedish National Team’s new Stadium opening in Stockholm in 2012, he has statistically performed poorly against English clubs competing in Europe.
He scored a delightful Brace in the 2009/10 season against Arsenal at the Emirates to take Barcelona 2-0 up midway through the game, only before Theo Walcott to scupper a late goal at The Emirates to take it to 2-2.
His other two goals came against Chelsea in The Round of 16, in this editions Champions League. If ever he was going to win a CL medal; this was his season. But as fate would have it, his Parisian team were knocked out by another English club, Manchester City, once-again at the Quarter-Final stage.
Now, by good timing or by good fortune, Jose Mourinho has managed to find his way into the services of Old Trafford, having been sacked just 7-months earlier from rivals Chelsea after winning the English Title.
Zlatan has been in contact with his former manager and friend, and at the age of 35, this was the same age a certain Teddy Sherringham moved from Spurs to Man United in 1997 only to go and win the Champions League in 99’ – A famous late two goals from Sherringham and Solskjaer sent the Bayern players on their knees, unable to pick themselves from the pitch at Full-Time. This would be the only time an English Club has won the Treble (League, Domestic Cup, and European Cup) – A feat never to have been repeated again in England.
If Zlatan were to come to England, I do believe it would be something special and remove the unceremonious taste left in the mouths of Manchester United, from the departure Louis Van Gaal from the club and give the fans something to dream about again.
Although League 1 is a Light=Heavyweight competition with little competition for big clubs like PSG, Ibrahimović only seems to be getting better with age: Scoring 38 goals for the 2015/16 season. That is some record when compared from his time playing at Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG.
Zlatan does have concrete offers from The MLS and China, where they are throwing bucket loads of money to get the big Swede over there. But if he has one last critic to silence, then it is himself.
It would be fitting for a player of his calibre to again, prove the papers wrong in England, and bring a big European Trophy home to a club like Man United so that he receives a Winners’ Medal. This would be a fitting send-off in what has been a glittering career, and from a boy who came from Malmo.