You will struggle to find a player as outrageous as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The star PSG striker and Swedish Captain is a goal scoring machine with dozens of records and trophies on his resume, but he is perhaps better known for his outspoken personality. He is certainly not an individual lacking in self confidence, and this is evident with the fact that he often refers to himself in third person. His unbelievable quotes, along with his astonishing abilities, ensure that he is somewhat of a legend in the soccer world, so today we are counting down his 10 most outrageous quotes.
“First I went left, he did too. Then I went right, and he did too. Then I went left again, and he went to buy a hot dog.”
This absolute gem of a quote came during a post game interview, and it refers to a devastating move that he put on then-Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz. The move (similar to Ronaldinho’s “Flip Flap”) left him completely turned inside out, out of position and somewhat red faced. This came in the earlier stages of Zlatan’s career when he was at Ajax and faced Liverpool, and it was a clear sign of his dazzling ability on the pitch, but also his brilliant ability to entertain off of it. The quote perfectly encapsulates his confidence, sense of humor and cheekiness. Whilst somewhat disrespecting an opponent in a press conference after the game may anger some, Zlatan always manages to get away with it (aside from the odd confrontation) and importantly he also has the skills on the pitch to back up his extreme confidence.
“Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”
Most 17 year olds would be chomping at the bit to have a trial with Arsenal, but not Zlatan. During his time at his first professional club, Malmo FF, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger clearly saw glimpses of the Swede’s potential and offered him a trial. Zlatan astonishingly refused the offer, and eventually he joined Ajax in 2001 for a fee of €8.7 million. It clearly worked out for Zlatan as he has found great success at every club he has been at, and when reflecting on the early stages of his career and the opportunity given to him, he stated “Arsene Wenger asked me to have a trial with Arsenal when I was 17. I turned it down. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.” Although he has enjoyed tremendous success everywhere he has played, Zlatan has never played in the Premier League and the EPL trophy is one notable omission from his resume.
“You bought a Ferrari but drove it like a Fiat.”
In 2009, Zlatan joined Barcelona from Inter Milan for a fee of around €70 million. Although he contributed to their success and picked up a few trophies, his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola rapidly deteriorated and he played just one season with the Catalan giants before joining A.C Milan. This brilliant quote is directed at Guardiola and came when he was reflecting on his time in Barcelona, and it is clear that he was not happy with how the manager used him in their system. Although there were clearly problems, Zlatan bagged a sixth-best 16 league goals (21 in total) and helped Barca to top the league with an impressive 99 points. His arrogance is clear through, referring to himself as a Ferrari, but also by the fact that he criticized one of the most successful managers ever and how he was used, despite their success.
“Only God knows who will go through. You’re talking to him.”
Prior to the 2014 Brazil World Cup, Sweden found themselves in a play-off matchup against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the winner earning qualification to the World Cup. Billed as Zlatan vs. Cristiano, it was heavily publicized and everybody was excited for a showdown between two of the best players of all-time. Zlatan managed to crank things up prior to the first match when a Swedish journalist asked him who would go through. Zlatan replied “only God knows who will go through,” and after the journalist replied that it was hard to ask him, Zlatan shot straight back “you’re talking to him.” Although tongue in cheek, the media had a field day and it only increased anticipation. The showdown did not disappoint, with Ronaldo scoring the only goal in the first game before Portugal won 2-3 in the second leg with all of the goals coming from the two superstars.
“A World Cup without me is nothing to watch, so it is not worth waiting for the World Cup.”
Following on from the previous quote, Zlatan amazed the press after the playoff matchup as well with this brilliant quote. It was an epic showdown and particularly in the second leg, where Zlatan even applauded a very well taken Ronaldo goal. Many were disappointed that both Zlatan and Ronaldo would not be in the World Cup, and Zlatan clearly felt that it was not worth watching at all if he and his Swedish team were not involved. Although it turned out to be a very exciting competition, it would have been fantastic to see him on the world’s biggest stage and particularly after such a dramatic playoff matchup. He was a part of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, but now in his mid-30s, you have to wonder if he will play in the 2018 competition (and if Sweden will qualify with him being their key player).
“Nothing, she already has Zlatan.”
Zlatan has a longtime life partner, Helena Seger, and during a press conference he was once asked what he had got her for her upcoming birthday. He cheekily replied – “Nothing. She already has Zlatan.” Not only does he refer to himself in third person which shows his sense of self worth, but he also implies that his partner wants or needs nothing more than himself. Although perhaps a joke, Zlatan is famed for his astonishing confidence which many suggest spills over into narcissism and delusions of grandeur (classic for those that speak in third person). Although this rubs many people the wrong way and he is not everybody’s favorite player, there is no doubt that he is highly entertaining and of course the press, and many fans, adore him because of some of the incredible things that he says (plus some of the equally outrageous goals that he scores).
“We are looking for an apartment. If we don’t find anything, then I’ll probably just buy the hotel.”
In the summer of 2012, Zlatan joined PSG from A.C. Milan for an initial fee of around €20 million, and this made him the most expensive footballer in terms of combined transfer fees (he has moved around a lot). His three year contract would see him earn a whopping net annual salary of €14 million including bonuses, which was good enough for the second highest paid footballer in the world (behind Samuel Eto’o). Upon arriving at his new club, he immediately showed the French press his arrogance and sense of humor with this shocking quote which seems like quite an extravagant backup plan, but one that he could probably afford. Although his goalscoring has been prolific and PSG have dominated domestically, it has not all been smooth sailing in Paris for Zlatan and he has been at the centre of several controversies which have largely come from his outspoken nature.
“Well…I don’t know…you’ll have to ask your wife about that.”
This is not something that you can imagine Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney saying, and if they did it was cause an absolute uproar and they would likely face disciplinary action from their team (not to mention be forced to revisit media sensitivity training). Instead, as it came out of the mouth of The Zlatan, it was well-taken and, of course, very funny. In a press conference after a match, Zlatan was asked why he had scratches on his face. Without missing a beat, this was his amazing answer which must have been quite shocking for the poor reporter who will no doubt think twice before asking Zlatan another question. One thing is for sure, and that is that you do not get a dull press conference or interview with the PSG striker. Most professional athletes give very tame and predictable comments, but this is not Zlatan’s style whatsoever.
“Come to my house and you’ll see if I’m gay. And bring your sister.”
After Zlatan was photographed with Barcelona teammate Gerard Pique in a close embrace, rumors began to circulate about the Swedish star’s sexuality. One Spanish female reporter questioned the man himself, to which he originally ignored the question. Later, when Zlatan was in his car, he invited the female reporter over to answer her question. He replied – “come to my house and you’ll see if I’m gay. And bring your sister.” Although it was a tongue-in-cheek answer, this is still a completely outrageous thing to say to the media. There is not another player, or even athlete, on the planet who would get away with such a cheeky comment. The entire story was something of nothing anyway, as Zlatan has a longtime partner, Helena Seger, with whom he has two sons. We doubt Helena found the comment amusing in the slightest.
“I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am.”
Another completely outrageous quote that gives you an insight into his unashamed arrogance and narcissism, Zlatan clearly sees himself as much better than those around him. It is quotes like this that make him such a polarizing player and many hate him, but equally a large percentage of the football community love him for quotes like this. Although perfect is a very strong word, his goal scoring record and trophy haul speak for themselves. Since joining Ajax, Zlatan has won the league title at every single club he has played at (as well as several other trophies). He is unquestionably one of the best players of his generation and is not finished yet, and with so many records and titles (and an enormous salary), it is understandable that he would be confident, but this quote is on another level.