How Zlatan Ibrahimović Put Sweden on the Map
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One of the greatest football players in history, Zlatan Ibrahimović, had a difficult start. He was born in 1981 in the immigrant district of Malmö, Sweden. His parents had previously fled from the Balkans. The family often had no food on the table, so 9-year-old Zlatan had to steal it. His classmates looked down on a poor "foreigner" in a tracksuit.
But instead of breaking his spirit, the tough childhood made Zlatan want to prove himself. He dreamt of being the best. His ambition and will power led him from a small ghetto in Malmö to the most elite clubs in Europe. He has won trophies with Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Manchester United.
Some sports commentators say that you can be a good athlete if you have talent, but to be great, you must have something else — determination, self-belief, and the ability to turn weaknesses into strengths. Great sportsmen like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Diego Maradona, Serena Williams or Muhammad Ali have one thing in common: they were the underdogs who broke the rules. Some didn't have the perfect body, others had health problems, and still others were simply poor. But they overcame it all.
Now in his forties, Ibrahimović keeps breaking records. In 2021, he scored a fantastic acrobatic goal. It became his 300th across Europe's top five leagues. There are only two other active players who have achieved the same: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. “I'm not a typical Swedish boy, but I put Sweden on the map,” Ibrahimović likes to say. This may seem a little arrogant, but it's true. In the world of football, Ibrahimović is the most famous Swede of all.