Zlatan featured in Man City 'squad'
Published: 18 Feb 2011 17:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Feb 2011 17:00 GMT+01:00
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was one of a host of world stars who unexpectedly turned up bearing a Manchester City strip in the official programme ahead of a Europa League clash with Aris Thessaloniki on Tuesday.
Ibrahimovic, who recently confirmed that he turned down an offer to join England's self-styled "richest club" before signing for AC Milan, was featured in an inflated City squad which also included Wayne Rooney, Kaká, Lionel Messi and Fernando Torres, among others, in the unfamiliar sky blue shirts.
The team photo numbered almost 60 faces, including one of a cartoon character resplendent in red and white hoops and matching woolly hat and standing just in front of the 29-year-old Swedish star.
According to media reports the pic was selected by Aris editors who found it online and, taking it be representative of an official line up, decided to include it in the official programme printed ahead of Tuesday's match.
The gaff was first noticed by City chief executive Gary Cook when he, along with club officials from both teams, met to enjoy drinks and canapés ahead of the crunch last 32 tie.
Despite City officials insisting that they were able to see the funny side, the Greek club's red-faced hierarchy immediately ordered that the printed programmes be pulped.
It has since emerged that the photo was originally featured on the UK Guardian newspaper's website in its spoof section and carrying the title "Where's Wally".
Speaking ahead of Milan's Champion's League match against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed that he had spoken to the Manchester club while he was considering his options when leaving Barcelona.
While he did not rule out the prospect of playing in England at some point in his career, he said that he was happy with his choice of Milan, thus leaving Man City fans left waiting to see if the tall Swede ever does join their line up, for real that is.
The print run of programmes that managed to escape the shredder are meanwhile reported to have become something of a collectors item, fetching not insignificant sums on online auction site Ebay.