LONDON – Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed he was told by “everyone” not to risk his reputation by playing in England, but how a successful spell at Manchester United made him feel young again – “like Benjamin Button”.
The 37-year-old Swedish forward made a high-profile switch to Old Trafford in July 2016 after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, initially on a one-season contract.
Ibrahimovic made a major impact at Old Trafford, scoring twice to help Jose Mourinho’s side win the 2017 League Cup final against Southampton, before suffering a serious knee injury during the Europa League quarter-final with Anderlecht.
The veteran front man recovered and signed a contract extension, but eventually left United to join Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy in March 2018.
In an interview with BBC 5 Live, the much-travelled Ibrahimovic recalled the advice he had received when he was contemplating life in the Premier League.
“When I went to England, I was talking to different players that I knew well and trusted that would give me an honest opinion.
“From all of them, everyone said ‘do not do it’ – they said it would not be good for my career, because you put your whole career on one season,” he said.
“If you do not do a good season, people will say the rest of the things you did before were useless because you didn’t make it in England, but that triggered me, and that’s the challenge I wanted.”
Ibrahimovic, who also played for Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona and both Milan giants, added: “I went against everyone and said that’s what I wanted to do. They thought I was too old... and I made the Premier League look old.
“It took me three months to convince everyone who I was. That was the challenge, and I never turn down a challenge.”
Ibrahimovic, who said he had an “amazing” connection with United midfielder Paul Pogba at Old Trafford, said he had felt “unbreakable... like Superman” before suffering his serious knee injury.
HEJ SVERIGE! Today my new book is released in Swedish and several other languages. It is a book about my career as a football player with lots of interviews with me and former colleagues, written by @MatsOlssonNY. Enjoy pic.twitter.com/L1aZGCjvlp— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 8, 2018
“The first year at United, we had a fantastic year,” he added. “They made me feel like Benjamin Button.
“I was getting younger and younger, then unfortunately, I got my injury.”AFP