Anyone who follows football somewhat regularly has heard his name, mostly in conjunction with his clubs with which he has been associated, AC Milan ad previously, Barcelona. He holds the record for the second highest transfer fee ever paid for a footballer, at 69 million euros, when he shifted from Internazionale (previously known as Inter Milan) to Barcelona in 2009.
He is none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the famed striker for Internazionale and the captain of the Swedish international football team. Originally from Sweden, he was of Croatian and Bosnian descent, from his mother and father respectively. He was born in Sweden in 1977, and grew up in Rosengrad, a neighbourhood known for sheltering immigrating communities. Although he was brought up in a diverse religious environment, with his father being Muslim and his mother Christian, Ibrahimovic isn’t very religious. He started to play football at the age of 6 at the local junior clubs Malmo BI, also known as FC Rosengrad, and FBK Balkan, after he was gifted a pair of football boots. One of the highlights of his early age was when he came on as a substitute for his team, FBK Balkan, when it was trailing by 4 goals. After he came on, he led his team to victory by scoring an astounding 8 goals. Due to financial pressure, Ibrahimovic was about to leave his football career at the age of 15, and wanted to go work at the docks in his neighborhood. But his club’s manager persuaded him to stay.
He dropped out of school in the ninth grade, although he had grades which were above average, so that he could concentrate on his football career. His first contract was with Malmo, in 1996, for the junior team. He was promoted to the senior team in 1999, when he was 18 years of age. His team was playing for Allsvenskan, the premier football league in the country. Even then, he was being hounded by managers of top level European clubs such as Arsenal and AFC Ajax. But he refused to leave his home team, nor was he for sale from the club. Finally, he was transferred to Ajax in 2001.
Under the then coach of Ajax, Ibrahimovic hardly received any playing time and spent most of his time on the bench. But the coach was soon sacked and his replacement put Zlatan in the starting line-up. That year, Ajax won the Eredvisie title. He was subsequently transferred to Juventus, followed by Internazionale in 2006. He came into prominence during his four years at Internazionale, from 2006 to 2009. during his first year at Inter, he became the top scorer for his club with 15 goals. With his help, Inter won the Serie A for the first time in 17 years. In the process, they also scored a massive 97 points which is a record in the Serie A. He also repeated this feat while playing for Barcelona. During the 2008-09 season, he scored a goal against Bologna which was voted the Goal of the Year. He is currently employed at AC, alongside other greats such as Inzaghi and Von Bommel. His international career is just as impressive.