I’ve had some tough job interviews in my life but Zlatan’s interviews would shake me to my core. He is an intimidating player on the field and even though I’ve seen how he reacts to reporters off the soccer field I never considered how intimidating he could be on the other side of the table. After watching this I think I could buy into a office based TV show revolving around Zlatan. Actually, I could literally watch Zlatan do anything from soccer to sitting in a white room in a basic fold-up chair. Think about it, Zlatan in a room doing nothing. He’d find a way to make that entertaining guaranteed.
It is a guilty pleasure of mine to watch athletes compete in a sport they don’t play professionally. When I see some of these athletes try and fail to play another sport it convinces me that I could beat them and it helps makes me feel better about myself. Now I know that some of these athletes who compete in another sports sometimes look just as awesome as when they play their natural sport. However, I’m not talking about those guys because they are just athletic gods who are good at everything. I purposely ignore them for my own self-esteem.
Zlatan looks like one of these guys. It seems like he is barely trying in this video and he still is the best basketball player on the court which is exactly how he usually looks on the soccer field. He is a scorer no matter what sport he plays. It’s an innate ability that translates across all athletic contests. I’m not saying he’d be able to play basketball professionally but he definitely would have been very good had he played another sport. That’s something that is fun to imagine, what Zlatan would be like if he played in the NBA. I’m a little disappointed I’ll never know
On 14 February 2015, Paris Saint-German played against Caen at Parc des Princes. For most players this game was just another day on the job. For Zlatan Ibrahimović this was his most important game to date.
Underneath his sweater he had 50 new names tattooed. Names of people he’d never met, but still wanted to keep close. Names of some of the 805 million people suffering from hunger today.
These people don’t often make the front page, yet hunger and malnutrition are the number one risk to health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
This is a campaign from the World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In emergencies, they get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.
On average, WFP reaches more than 80 million people with food assistance in 75 countries each year. About 11,500 people work for the organisation, most of them in remote areas, serving the hungry.
Support The United Nations World Food Programme and Zlatan Ibrahimović’s fight against hunger at http://WFP.org/805millionnames
This was briefly touched on in our Monday Musings blog post but I felt like it deserved it’s own post as well. World hunger is a very serious problem and for many soccer fans it is a problem we are unfamiliar with. Most of us are lucky to not have to go to bed hungry but there are millions of people in this world who do not have the luxury. Only a player of Zlatan’s notoriety could make enough of a statement to get this problem the attention it deserves so it is great that he has accepted this responsibility. After reading his autobiography it is apparent that Zlatan is very familiar with this problem from his own experiences growing up so one can see how this is a problem very close to his heart. It’s also great the way he went about supporting this cause. In this day and age it takes creativity to make something go viral and gain attention and his method seems to have done just that. I just hope Zlatan plays until his forties because not only is his talent superhuman but he has also has a superhuman heart.
Athlete autobiographies are very common place nowadays. Most athletes see writing an autobiography as an easy way to make some cash. Who can blame them? Fans are ravenous in their hunger for even the most mundane details of an an athletes life and athletes are smart enough to make a quick buck exploiting that. Unfortunately, many athletes are already trying to live very private lives because of all the media scrutiny they attract which is not very conducive to writing a “tell all” autobiography. The resulting books they write tend to read like they were put through a heavy filter by the athlete’s PR director. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proven in his dealings with fans and the media that he has no filter and this personality trait helped him write one of the most truthful and enjoyable autobiographies written by an athlete on the market today.
Zlatan was born into poverty and was the product of two immigrant parents. His parents split up during his formative years so he spent most of his life caught in a very difficult family situation. As if the difficult family situation was not bad enough he also lived in poverty in the slums of Malmo, Sweden. Because of his difficult upbringing he frequently acted out either through mild crimes such as stealing bikes or getting into fights. This acting out would be an integral part of his character and be one of the main reasons he has acted in such a rash manner both on the soccer field and with the media.
The environment he grew up in would also play a large part is the soccer player he eventually became. In the slums of Malmo, Sweden most immigrant kids did not associate themselves with Sweden. Instead they saw themselves as outcasts from Swedish society. Zlatan himself said he did not see the Swedish national team play a game until his late teens. Without Swedish soccer idols to turn to, Zlatan obsessed over Brazilian soccer players and would always practice the moves of players such as Ronaldo so he could use them when playing with friends. Since Sweden is not known for flashy players, Zlatan stood out in both a good way and a bad way. Parents of players of the teams he played on did not like him because he was seen as arrogant and individualistic. The coaches had similar views but they also so the benefit of his individual brilliance. This dichotomy of both disgust and awe forms the crux on which Zlatan has built his career.
As Zlatan went through his career he was preyed upon by agents/coaches looking to exploit him for financial gain, reporters exploiting him for the next big story, and fans turning their back on him because he had the audacity to look out for his own personal needs. Most autobiographies gloss over the intricate details of the negative events such as these so they don’t alienate fans or future teams they may get transferred too. Zlatan doesn’t care. He makes it perfectly clear what his thoughts are on things such as Pep Guardiola or what his career goals are and his honesty is incredibly refreshing. If he wanted to set a goal scoring record in his career he admits it instead of lying and saying something like, “All I cared about was the team.” Soccer fans are not dumb. They know that soccer players have to look out for themselves. However, most soccer players will lie to perpetuate their image in the media. Zlatan’s image as portrayed by the media is not the most positive so he feels no need to protect it.
Not every soccer fan likes Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His individual brilliance on the field is appreciated by all but his arrogant attitude is seen by many as off-putting. After reading this book many will change their opinions. By seeing into the mind of Zlatan and how he grew up it greatly explains why Zlatan has become the person he is today. There are no apologies in this book for his negative characteristics because it is those exact characteristics that helped him survive in his early years and become the player his is today. Though he may be arrogant it is hard not to appreciate the honesty in this book. Zlatan exposes himself in this book, scars and all, and it gives you a deeper appreciation for him as a person. In fact, it makes other autobiographies seem fake and overtly calculated. Whatever your thoughts on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, you should read this book. If you don’t come away with more appreciation for the man himself then at least you’ll see how a true athlete autobiography is meant be written.
After Zlatan’s Sweden got knocked out of the World Cup by Portugal, Zlatan claimed he would not watch the World Cup and instead he would take a vacation. In his typical Zlatan manner, he opined that a “World Cup without me is not worth watching.” Although hyperbolic, this statement does hold some truth. Therefore, a bunch of prominent Brazillians are starting a campaign to get Zlatan to Brazil. Hopefully, this helps convince him #VEMIBRA.
Today marks the beginning of the European World Cup Qualifying Playoffs. There are four two game series going on, three of which are Croatia vs. Iceland, Greece vs. Romania, and France vs. Ukraine. However, most soccer fans outside those counties will be transfixed on the two-game playoff between Sweden and Portugal. In this game two of the world’s best soccer players, and current favorites to win the Ballon d’Or, will attempt to lead their team to victory. For Zlatan Ibrahimovic this is probably his last chance to make a World Cup. He is 32 and most player’s skills, especially strikers, begin to steadily decrease after 30. Although, Zlatan is having one of the best seasons of his career, there are many who rightly believe that this is the swan song of his career. Aging players typically tend to make up for their decreasing pace by using their veteran experience and guile to add another dimension to their game and make themselves less reliant on speed. A great example of a veteran player changing his game to compensate for his aging body is Kobe Bryant who has continued to play at a high level long after his athleticism began to wane. There’s a great chance Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays in the next European Cup but there’s little hope he gets to play another World cup. Andriy Shevchenko may have scored a couple of goals when he was 36 for Ukraine in the 2012 Euro Cup, but anyone watching the game knew that although his nose for goal was ever-present, his body could not keep up with what he wanted to do. At the end of the day, Ibrahimovic wants to highlight his already spectacular year, and overall international career, with a trip to the World Cup. It is just unfortunate that he is running into…
Cristiano Ronaldo has had mixed results in his international career. Although he has always played his heart out for his country, he has not always been as effective as he has been for his club. Many speculate that this is because of the enormous pressure he has on himself to perform. Cristiano is no stranger to pressure, he has performed admirably in domestic and european finals. He is always one of, if not the, top goalscorer in every league and competition he plays in. However, at every team he plays for, despite being the best player on the team, he is surrounded by tremendous talent. Although Portugal is a great team, their attacking ability relies almost solely on Cristiano Ronaldo. When he is ineffective, the Portugal attack is profligate. Helder Postiga and Nani are decent players, but not the type of players who can carry a team. Thus, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to try “too hard” when he plays for Portugal. He tries to do too many things and thinks too hard about carrying his team to victory. The Ronaldo that is so effective for his club is much more freewheeling and less pressured. It did not help that Portugal’s old coach played him as a lone striker which negated most of the reason Ronaldo is effective, which is when he cuts in from the wing. However, this coach seems to understand Cristiano much better and by giving him the armband he has created a leader on his team who had once been accused of playing only for himself.
In order for either team to win, both men know that they must be the ones who carry their team to victory. That is not to say they have to be the game-winning goal-scorers. They could both score zero goals, although that is not ideal, as long as they are capable of creating chances for their teammates by drawing defenders to them and away from their teammates. Both players are having career seasons and both know that not qualifying for the World Cup will put a huge damper on their season. If both players play up to their current club form then this game has the potential to be one of the best soccer games of the year. It’s too bad Ballon d’Or votes will have already been cast though as this game would be a perfect decider to see who is better between the two.
This goal is insane. Ibrahimovic must be a wizard because he does things no mortal human should be capable of.