It is understood Ibrahimovic paid the short visit to Rosengård to shoot a commercial for car maker Volvo at Zlatan Court, the football court he helped open in his old home town in southern Sweden.
But as soon as word spread that the striker was back in town, fans began flocking to the scene.
“My cousin has a balcony there and sent me a snap that Zlatan was there. I got on my bicycle immediately and cycled over and just threw the bike down to see him,” Malmö resident Mostafa Naffah told regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, which first reported on the story in Sweden.
Witnesses told the daily that more and more people, at least 200 children, soon arrived in the hope to catch a rare glimpse of the footballer, whose last official visit to the city came when his Paris Saint-Germain team played against his old club Malmö FF in the Champions League.
One onlooker said that camera crews eventually had to cancel the shoot when the audience got too large, because they were struggling to find good camera angles without catching large groups of people on tape.
But according to Naffah, and other readers cited by Sydsvenskan, it got cut short for security reasons after someone threw a firecracker near the footballer. The paper published a short video of the alleged incident.
Only seven seconds long, it was first published in what appeared to be its entirety late on Thursday. However, Sydsvenskan later edited out the second half of the video – the part where the firecracker is thrown – reporting it had done so at the request of Naffah, who shot the clip.
The Local watched the video before it was edited. It showed crowds gathering near the footballer when somebody shouted and there was sudden commotion. It was difficult to see the exact moment when the firecracker was allegedly thrown, but a cloud of smoke could be seen rising up from near Ibrahimovic.
“He said, 'what are you doing, what are you up to'. Then he went back to the car he had been in and [the camera crews'] two mini buses set off at full speed. He must have been really angry,” said Naffah, who was sad about the turn of events. “You would have wanted to see more of Zlatan.”
Advertising agency Forsman och Bodenfors, which is behind Volvo's commercials 'Made by Sweden', declined to comment on the incident when approached by Sydsvenskan.
“I cannot comment on this right at this stage. I am sorry,” said spokesperson Staffan Lamm.
One of the world's highest-paid footballers, Ibrahimovic's flashy lifestyle today is a far cry from his upbringing in Rosengård.
The suburb often hits the news over gang crime as well as race-related violence, prompting Swedish police to step up their presence in the area.
But the striker has always spoken highly of the Malmö district, famously saying, “You can take the boy out of Rosengård, but you can never take Rosengård out of the boy”.