it’s been nine years I’m Zlatan Ibrahimovic Posted in English and was described by parent’s Richard Williams is regarded as “the most compelling autobiography ever to be published under a footballer’s name”. That book details the rags-to-riches story of Sweden’s most famous footballer, born in a difficult neighborhood of Malmö to a Bosnian Muslim father and Catholic Croat mother. It was raw, unattainable and, although ghost-written, resonated with the unmistakable voice of this most egregious of athletes.
Adrenaline: My Untold Stories That first book reviews some aspects, but it’s really about coming to terms with the AC Milan striker getting older – an unforgivably quick process for those in elite sports. He turned 41 in October, which is still an extraordinary age to play at the highest level.
“When I was a young man,” he writes – or rather his ghostwriter, Luigi Garlando does – “I too loved myself and had a raging ego.”
Now he says he is a more mature and more mature leader at home with him. “Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a swinger,” he concluded.
Okay, maybe, but the most important consistency between the younger and mature versions of Ibrahimovic is that he’s still referring to himself in the third person. He also talks about being a god.
Because he has successfully turned ego into a sort of ironic performance art, it’s often hard to tell just how much of a provocative pose and how much he truly believes in his own shtick. Certainly his newfound maturity has not given the Zen-like acceptance of life’s sufferings that he prefers to suggest in this book. Because you only have to turn a few pages to encounter another scene of Hebra, which is dealing with some minor irritation or threats to intimidate an opponent.
He told Romelu Lukaku that if he opened his mouth he was going to break every bone in his body. And when the then-Inter Milan player insulted the Swede’s wife (according to Ibrahimovic’s account), he suggested her mother should cast a spell. Elsewhere, he complains that Italian football is hypocritical for taking an anti-racist stance, but allows the football crowd to chant “gypsy” at him.
He rejects the need for PR because, he explains, ‘it’s enough to be myself, and I’m right the way’
He is, to put it mildly, a set of contradictions. Almost every firm opinion he expresses – and he is certainly not a person looking for a fence to sit on – is negated by equally strong opposing opinions, though usually without identifying the difference between the two. . For example, he says that he “can’t stand” football players making his humble beginnings, while making it a topic to which he repeatedly returns to himself.
And yet there is something very poignant, even alluring, about his intense relationship with himself amidst endless ferocity and masculinity. Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, vanity comes with an appreciation of the absurd. He says he’s got all the tattoos on his back, so he doesn’t need to see them. And he dismissed the need for PR because, he explains, he has his own personal rule: “It’s enough to be myself, and I’m perfect the way I am.”
Married to a heroic savvy woman who takes care of his two children in Sweden while he trades his way in Milan, Ibrahimovic, it goes without saying, it’s a long way off. He’s a big kid in many ways, but still, he’s not as smart as he thinks, smarter than his opponents allow.
However, his sense of timing, so excellent in the 18-yard box, has disappointed him with this book. Since it was completed, two important events have happened in his life. The first is that his agent Mino Raiola, whom he consistently describes as his best friend, died in April of this year.
And the second happened the following month, when Milan won their first Serie A title in more than a decade. In truth, Ibrahimovic played a limited role on the pitch as a result of mounting injuries. But there’s an argument—of course he’d agree—that her strong character strength and uncanny self-confidence, too—helped Ran’s turn a team of ruthless victors. Because, for all his mouthfuls, Ibrahimovic is a proven winner.
How he will perform when he finally has to hang up his shoes is another matter. He writes that thinking about what he would do without that regular adrenaline infusion scares him “a little”. I doubt it scares him too much. How will he be Zlatan Ibrahimovic when the crowd stops chanting his name?
Adrenaline: My Untold Stories By Zlatan Ibrahimovic is published by Penguin (£10.99). to support Guardian And Observer Order your copy at Guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply