“Truth be told, I feel sorry for him,” Ljungberg told the Expressen newspaper in his first public comments about Ibrahimovic’s book, “I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic” (Jag är Zlatan Ibrahimovic), published earlier this month.
Without naming explicitly Ljungberg by name, Ibrahimovic writes in the book how he got “fed up” during their time together on Sweden’s national team.
“We were a great group, good guys and then one prima donna. The prima donna carried on with his antics. ‘You know, in Arsenal, we do this. That’s really how it should be done. Because in Arsenal they know stuff like that’,” he wrote in the book.
In another passage, Ibrahimovic took issue with Ljungberg’s need to ride in a special bus during the Euro 2004 championships because of problems with his back.
“Who the fuck is he to come and play upper-class with us?” he wrote.
Just days after the book’s publication, Ibrahimovic chided Ljungberg further, telling reporters during a press conference prior to Sweden’s match against Denmark that “one of us had respect and one didn’t have respect”.
After days of silence regarding Ibrahimovic’s claims, Ljungberg, who now plays for Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan, has responded by attacking his former teammate for “sinking so low” as to use “bitchy comments” about Ljungberg and others to sell his book.
“Personally, if I have a problem with people I take it face to face. But clearly, everyone is different. He wrote a book instead,” Ljungberg told Expressen.
Speaking with the Aftonbladet tabloid, Ljungberg described the relationship between him and Ibrahimovic as one of “professional footballers”, although he admitted that they “weren’t always in agreement”.
He emphasized, however, that he didn’t want to engage in mudslinging via the media.
“He can stand for what he said. I’m not going to get into it,” Ljungberg told Aftonbladet.
In addition to the accusations about Ljungberg, the Ibrahimovic autobiography also includes details about his falling out with Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.
“I yelled at him ‘You have no balls!’ and probably worse things than that,” Ibrahimovic wrote.
Ibrahimovic left Italian club Inter for Spain’s Barcelona in 2009, but despite the €69 million ($95 million) transfer, his tenure at the club proved short lived.
The following season, Ibrahimovic left the Spanish championship club and returned to Italy to play for AC Milan.