Knowing Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s level of self-confidence it may come as a surprise to hear the Sweden international did in fact idolise and look up to other players at one point in time.
The 35-year-old has brought success and goals to every club he’s been at so it is perhaps no wonder he thinks so highly of himself, however players must have someone to look up to if they are to make it to the top grade; someone to learn from whether that’s everyday in training at the same club or from afar.
Speaking to United Review recently, the ex-Inter Milan man noted that the player he most admired as he worked his way up the footballing food chain was former Brazil striker Ronaldo.
“I think Ronaldo was phenomenal. He was the player that whatever he did it became wow! He could do a difficult thing and it became magic. He would take the ball and it was like him saying ‘I’ll take care of it now’.
“You didn’t have that kind of football player before and you don’t have it today. He doesn’t exist. As a young player I watched him and said to myself ‘I want to be exactly like that’… the player who makes the difference, the shining light, simple as that.”
It may be fair to say that Ibrahimovic’s personality as well as talent has helped him become that ‘shining light’ in a team down through the years. Scoring at every club he’s been at, the mysticism surrounding the Malmo native has only grown over the last decade or so and it’s certainly something the player himself has bought into.
At 35, question marks still remain as to how he will be viewed as one of the all-time greats in world football, but there’s no doubting that whatever he does achieve between now and the end of his career he hasn’t been too far off Ronaldo’s level.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena