Well, it’s official now. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is leaving European shores to see out his career in the MLS with LA Galaxy. Of course, Zlatan, being the sublime footballer he was at his peak, has provided much entertainment on the pitch. But I would suggest that throughout his career his off-field remarks have provided just as much enjoyment. After all, nearly everyone loves a Zlatan quote.
For example, I was watching Match of the Day a few months back when an interview with Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on following the highlights of the Manchester United v Newcastle game. Now I normally pay no attention to post-match interviews as they are usually just banal questions and answers. However, Zlatan is different and my ears pricked up. He, of course, didn’t disappoint by explaining that he had been able to come back from serious injury much earlier than anticipated because ‘lions don’t recover like humans’. This got me to thinking about the very few footballers, past or present, who seem to be capable of providing funny or insightful comments in interviews.
Indeed, there are only a handful of footballers who’s quotes and comments live long in the mind. Certainly, the late great George Best was one, although you have to be careful about whether he actually said what is attributed to him. Some of the gems that are supposedly credited to Best are:
‘I spent a lot of money on booze, fast cars and birds. The rest I just squandered’
‘In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol – It was the worst 20 minutes of my life’
‘I used to go missing a lot…Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World’
‘If you’d given me the choice of going out and beating four men and smashing in a goal from thirty yards against Liverpool or going to bed with Miss World, it would have been a difficult choice. Luckily, I had both’
I also remember the quote Eric Cantona made to the press in 1995 following a court appearance for kicking an abusive Crystal Palace fan. Now I accept that ‘When seagulls follow the trawler they think sardines will be thrown into the sea’ is not particularly brilliant in it’s own right. But in my opinion what made it memorable was that at the time most of the press were mystified by the remarks and didn’t understand he was referring to them.
There is no doubt some other people connected to football are eminently quotable, but to me, the undoubted king of the one-liner is, of course, the player I referred to at the start of this article, the ex-Ajax and Manchester United player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is the gift that has just kept on giving throughout his career.
While he was in England he seemed to have a fixation with lions. As well as the Match of the Day quote I mentioned earlier, you may remember some time ago he was asked why he hadn’t included himself as one of the top strikers in the Premier League and replied succinctly ‘lions don’t compare themselves with humans’.
So let us take a tour of some of my other favourite quotes that Zlatan has made over the years.
You may not know but when he was 17 years old, Ibrahimovic was offered a trial at Arsenal by Arsene Wenger. His response – ‘ I turned it down, Zlatan doesn’t do auditions’
Of course, Ibrahimovic had a short spell at Barcelona. To say he was not enamoured by Pep Guardiola during his time there is something of an understatement. Following these comments I doubt if Zlatan will be joining Manchester City in any capacity anytime soon:
‘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’
‘Mourinho is Guardiola’s opposite. If Mourinho brightens up the room, Guardiola pulls down the curtains and I guessed that Guardiola now tried to measure himself with him’
There are myriad quotes from his time at Paris St Germain. Here are just few:
‘We’re looking for an apartment. If we don’t find anything then I’ll probably just buy the hotel,’
‘It’s true I don’t know much about the players here, but they definitely know who I am’
‘I don’t believe they can change the Eiffel Tower for my statue, even the people behind the club. But if they can, I will stay here — I promise you.’
‘If [Wayne Rooney] still wants to move next summer, or in January, I would urge him to come and play with me in Paris … If he did join, he would have to get used to the fact that Zlatan scores even better goals than him.’
I think one of my all-time favourites is this exchange with a reporter before 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’
To finish off here are a few more quotes that Zlatan has made about himself over the years:
When asked what he had bought a girlfriend as an engagement gift – ‘What do you mean a present – she has Zlatan’
In response to being asked to name the world’s most beautiful woman – ‘I haven’t met her yet. But when I do, I will date her’
A reporter once learnt the hard way not to ask Zlatan about the origin of scratches on his face – ‘You’ll have to ask your wife that’
When questioned by a journalist about his sexuality – ‘Come to my house and you’ll see if I’m gay…and bring your sister’
After scoring a goal for Sweden against England in 2012 ‘You can’t coach brilliance like that’
There are of course many more quotes that Zlatan has made over years. These are too numerous to list in this article. So go on, do some research and find them yourselves.
Zlatan don’t ever change.