The star striker, who plays for French Ligue 1 club PSG, was trumped by Danish soccer legend Michael Laudrup in a poll by some of Scandinavia's leading sporting journalists and pundits.
However the panel, put together by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, placed him second, ahead of retired Danish star Peter Schmeichel, Allan Simonsen, who also played for Denmark in the 1970s and 1980s, Jari Litmanen from Finland and Henrik Larsson, a former captain of the Swedish national team, who now manages Helsingborgs IF.
Michael Laudrup, 50, led the votes after playing in several top European clubs during his career including rival Spanish sides Real Madrid and Barcelona.
He scored 37 goals in 104 international matches for Denmark and is currently manager of Lekhwiya in Qatar.
Zlatan's failure to hit the top spot came as he prepared to start for Sweden against Norway in an international friendly on Monday evening.
The game is set be watched by 26,500 fans at the sold-out Ullevål stadium in Oslo.
"Zlatan is very eager to play," coach Erik Hamrén told Swedish media on Saturday. Although he noted that the stiker has been struggling with a calf injury.
But several other key Swedish players will be missing from the squad, because they play for Danish club sides which held matches over the weekend.
Zlatan hit the global headlines over the weekend for a bizarre decision to cut his tracksuit bottoms and turn them into shorts, rather than getting changed during training in Oslo (look closely at our photo of him). He also posted snaps of himself hiking in the Norwegian countryside on Instagram.
The international against Norway is part of the Swedish side's preparations for Sunday's European Championship qualifier at home to Montenegro. The game will be shown on Kanal 5 in Sweden at 8pm.