1. A king
When Ibrahimovic announced his departure from Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month he chose to do so in typically brash style, tweeting “I came like a king, I left like a legend”. It wasn’t even the first time he has insinuated that he has blue blood. In December 2014, after meeting the real Swedish royal family in Paris, the footballer supposedly signed off by telling King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to “take care of Sweden until I get home again”. He’s probably the only person in the country that could get away with that one.
Spot the royalty. Photo: Yoan Valat/TT
2. A Ferrari
Ever wondered what kind of car Ibrahimovic would be? Wonder no more. In a 2013 interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, the forward chose an automobile analogy to explain what went wrong between him and former coach Pep Guardiola at FC Barcelona.
“When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari,” he started. “If you drive a Ferrari you put premium fuel in the tank (…) Guardiola filled up with diesel and went for a spin in the countryside. If that’s what he wanted, he should have bought himself a Fiat.” In case you’re wondering, Zlatan does actually own a Ferrari, though we’re not sure if that technically means he drives himself, or if his analogy didn’t cover those bases.
It isn't entirely clear whether Ibrahimovic is physically connected to this car. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT
3. A great white shark
Ibrahimovic’s powers not only extend to the world of transport, but also to the animal kingdom. In 2014 he launched the “DareToZlatan” campaign on Twitter, offering fans the chance to ask questions in the hope that he would respond. When one user queried “Is Zlatan a man, or should he be worshipped like a god?” his reply briefly flirted with modesty, before making a reassuring return to trademark egotism.
“Yes. Zlatan is just a man. The same way that a great white shark is just a fish,” he responded. Ibrahimovic has yet to demonstrate that he can breathe under water.
Just a man. Or a fish. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/TT
4. A god
Consistency on the pitch may be one of Ibrahimovic’s strengths, but consistency off it isn’t always his forte. Prior to Sweden’s World Cup play-off meeting with Portugal in 2014, the blue-and-yellow captain was asked what he thought their chances of progression were. “Only God knows,” was his initial reply, but when the unsuspecting reporter suggested getting an interview with a deity may be a tough ask, the interviewee quickly responded “You’re talking to him”. So much for being just a man. Or a great white shark, for that matter.
Ibrahimovic during a divine moment. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
5. A fine wine
The story goes that Jesus turned water into wine, but the leader of the church of Zlatan isn’t one to be outdone easily. Last year the veteran was quizzed on how his body felt after more than 15 years of non-stop professional football, and the answer was about as modest as you may expect. “Even if I’m getting older I feel I’m still getting better,” he started, before adding “I’m like a fine wine that gets better with age”. There’s a theme developing here.
Wine, Zlatan. This is all getting a touch confusing. Photo: Pier Paolo Cito/AP/TT
6. Benjamin Button
Ever seen 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', where Brad Pitt plays a man who ages in reverse? Apparently Ibrahimovic has. Ahead of PSG’s 2015-16 Champions League quarter-final meeting with Manchester City, the Swede offered up an interesting perspective on his development as a player. “I was born old, I will die young. That’s how it looks like,” he explained to UEFA.com. Brad Pitt, eat your heart out.
Ibrahimovic aged 19 in 2001. We're not sure what that is in Zlatan years. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT
7. A machine
To his credit, Ibrahimovic seems to have an endless well of creativity he can draw from in an effort to explain just how brilliant he is. In the summer of 2013, Swedish tabloid Expressen were granted an exclusive interview with the star ahead of the 2013-14 season, and the line of questioning was right up Ibra’s alley.
“Are you ever impressed with yourself as a player?,” asked the journalist. (Guess where this is going). “Every day (…) it’s unbelievable. I’m like a machine,” was the response. Don’t encourage him.
A machine-like performance against England in 2012. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/TT
8. Julius Caesar
What do Ibrahimovic and Julius Caesar have in common? Absolutely nothing, but that didn’t stop the 34-year-old from comparing himself to the legendary Roman general earlier this month.
PSG’s all-time top scorer marked his last match for the club with two goals against Marseille in a Coupe de France final win on May 22nd, and when French TV grabbed him for a quick word after the final whistle, they got another classic sound bite.
“I came, I saw, I conquered,” he observed, evoking the phrase popularly attributed to Caesar.
Conquering yet another match. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP/TT
Sweden has produced a seemingly endless amount of films on Zlatan’s life – the first was made when he was still only 18 and playing for Malmö. Then there was the 2014 documentary 'From Rosengård With More Than One Goal', while February 2016 saw the release of 'Becoming Zlatan' (Den unge Zlatan).
Apparently that isn’t enough. In April, the Swede was asked about the various films on his career, and far from being tired of the subject, he instead insisted he would like to see more.
“We can make a lot of films about me,” he told Dagens Industri. “It would be like Rambo I to Rambo V – we could do Ibracadabra one to 10.” We can hardly wait.
10. Muhammad Ali
The hype around Ibrahimovic’s next move proves he is as big a name as ever, but there is one man that even the Malmö native would stop short of saying he is superior to.
“I’m the greatest,” the striker told 11Freunde in a 2013 interview, before getting into an argument with himself. “But can that really be the case, that two people are the greatest?,” he pondered. “No, here’s what we’ll say: I’m the greatest since Muhammad Ali,” he concluded.
Only Ibrahimovic could make comparing himself to the greatest boxer of all time seem like a moment of modesty.
Still the greatest… for now. Photo: John Rooney/AP/TT