Ibrahimovic “very proud” of “unpredictable” Milan squad and shows no remorse over Azpilicueta incident
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed he is “very proud” of the development of a young AC Milan side and suggested retirement is not yet part of his plans.
Even at 40, the Swede continues to be decisive, having scored five goals in seven Serie A games this season after battling a few injury issues to help the team move forward. He’s received huge credit for instilling a certain belief and mentality since moving into the winter transfer window for the 2019-20 season, with an almost straight trajectory from that point on.
Ibrahimovic gave a very insightful interview to Donald McRae – a journalist with British newspaper The Guardian – on a number of topics, including his formative years and why it means so much to him to see Milan fight at the top again.
“Getting more money won’t cure you. Attracting attention will not cure you. What will heal you is adrenaline. I have no problem with suffering. For me, suffering is like having breakfast. But a lot of people don’t understand the suffering because the new generation, with all these platforms, doesn’t have much to do with getting credit. The previous generation had to do a lot to achieve something. I am very proud to be of the older generation, ”he said (via Milan News).
AC Milan is the youngest team in the Champions League …
“Even though I’m here. It’s incredible. They make me look young. He has this effect, like Benjamin Button. After six months here you will have black hair, trust me. I am very proud because I see these young players taking more responsibility, changing their mentality.
“It’s my happiness now. It’s my adrenaline rush. I go out and run as much as they do. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. People think: ‘No, Ibrahimovic, you have to stop’. My mentality says otherwise. I do it because when young people see me working they say, ‘After everything he’s done, he’s still [working]. I have to do it because he did it. I have to set an example for them.
Milan is developing rapidly …
“I am not that dog who barks and does nothing. I am the opposite. When I was here for the first time [2010-2012] we were superstars. Now it’s full of talent, the youngest team in Europe, but we are on top. So it’s a different project and it’s more satisfying because if you succeed with superstars, that’s to be expected. It’s unpredictable.
Ibrahimovic played against Paolo Maldini and now his son Daniel is playing alongside Zlatan…
“One is the classic good guy. The other is very different. I’m glad they aren’t the same because it’s not easy for the son to be compared to the father, especially when the father has the career he had.
“We are helping the son in every way. He’s a great talent, but I say to him: “Play your game, fight, then you will lead the way on your own”. I am happy. I played against the father and today I play with the son. May be [Daniel] will have a child…. Am I going to play with Daniel’s son? It’s already a miracle now.
Ibrahimovic with a smile takes the journalist’s notebook and studies the 48 scribbled questions that span three pages …
“You brought an entire book with you. My time is very expensive. But you take your job very seriously and there is a lot to be said. I’m not here to say I’m fine because I’m from the ghetto or that you should feel sorry for me because I’m from there. You make the best of it and then it’s up to you.
“Life is top to bottom. If everything has been perfect, we have nothing to say to each other. We still make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. On digital platforms you put a photo with 20 filters and you are perfect. But when I see you, you’re not exactly perfect. You look normal like everyone else.
“People claim to be perfect. I say: ‘I am perfect when I am myself’. That doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes. But I learn from them. The other day in the national team, I made a tackle on Azpilicueta. I did it on purpose. I’m not ashamed to say it because he messed up my player.
“It was stupid but I would do it anyway to make him understand, ‘You don’t do this. You don’t have the balls to do it against me. But I’ll show you what happens if you do it to me. “That’s why I did it. What can he say? He won’t tell me but he will tell my player who will not do anything because he is too nice. It was not a good thing for me, but I would do it anyway. It’s me. I’m not ashamed to say it.
This incident will make him miss the play-offs in March …
“It’s not about missing the playoffs. It is about letting the child know that you are not insulting someone who poses [on the ground]. You are not attacking a dog that does not speak. Attack someone who can do something. Too easy to blame my teammates who are 20 years old and very nice guys. Hope you understand now.
“I’m not afraid to tell you. I made a mistake. But I will do it again. 100%. This is what I say about being “perfect”. Being myself is perfect for me. I don’t need filters to ask them what kind of questions you are going to ask me.
His two seasons at Manchester United have been partially successful …
“I had a great experience in England. Manchester United are a fantastic club and we have won a few trophies. They talk too much about the past. When I went there, I said, “I’m here to focus on the present and to create my story”. But when you have too much it becomes like a loop. You have to think about the present or you should go to the hospital and wipe your head.
Did the Premier League seem overrated to you?
“The quality is overestimated from a technical point of view. But the Premier League has different qualities: the pace, the pace. You can be the best player in the world, but if you can’t handle this pace and pace … [you won’t be able to]. In Spain, France and Italy the technique is better. That’s why there are so many foreigners in the Premier League. They bring the technique.
Ibrahimovic is also very attached to his family, who reside in Sweden.
“It’s not easy, but my wife takes care of the children. We make it work. When there is free time, we meet and we are all happy.
But without family and football, how did you feel at the start of the pandemic?
“I was alone. Things were very strict and you couldn’t travel. It was weird because in those times you’re with your loved ones and I couldn’t. But then they opened up a bit and I went home and stayed with them for two months.
Zlatan and LeBron have a lot in common, but Ibrahimovic has chosen to criticize James for his political statements.
“Sport brings people together. Politics divides people. If we are talking about racism, that is something else. This is something that I do not agree with. But I am not in politics. If I did, I would be president now.
” James ? I don’t know him personally. I don’t judge him. Whatever he does with racists, he’s right, because when 50,000 call you a fucking gypsy, it’s the same. It is [also] racism. But I am not in politics. I workout. This is how you spread love.
The journalist concludes his interview with: “Zlatan, is there something scary for your future without football?”
“If I’m worried about the future, I don’t focus on today. I am the present tense. Carpe Diem.”
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