Zlatan wins the cup for United!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the hero for Manchester United in last weekend's League Cup Final against Southampton. The striker's dramatic 87th-minute header gave United a 3-2 win against a brave Southampton side, who were the better team for much of the match. It looked like Southampton's new Italian striker, Manolo Gabbiadini, might be the star of the show, but he had a goal wrongly disallowed, for offside, early in the match. Against the run of play, United took the lead when Ibrahimovic scored a wonderful free-kick and the match looked over when United scored a second through Jesse Lingard, in the 38th minute. But two goals from Gabbiadini, either side of half-time, turned the game on its head. Southampton looked stronger and they hit the post. In the 86th minute, United were thankful to Ibrahimovic when he headed the ball off his own goalline, and less than a minute later he scored the winner with a powerful header. It's the fifth time Manchester United have won the League Cup and this was Zlatan's first major trophy in England. Will he win more this season?
You appreciate it more the older you get. Wherever I have gone I have won. I think this is trophy number 32 for me. I'm enjoying it in England. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, speaking after the League Cup Final.
Where is Zlatan from?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born on 3 October 1981 in Malmo, Sweden. He signed his first professional contract with his local side, Malmo FF, when he was 15 years old. He made his first team début in 1999 and scored 18 goals in 47 appearances. At this time, Arsene Wenger, made an attempt to buy Ibrahimovic for Arsenal but when Wenger asked him to come to London for a trial, Ibrahimovic said no. Instead, he signed for the Dutch club, Ajax, for €8.7 million. Ibrahimovic's parents emigrated to Sweden separately in the 1970s, his father is a Bosnian Muslim and his mother a Croatian Catholic. He still spends his summers in Malmo and has said that he would like to finish his career at his hometown club.
No way, Zlatan doesn't do auditions. Ibrahimovic talking about Arsene Wenger offering him a trial back in 1999.
Where has he played?
Ibrahimovic has played for some of the biggest clubs in European football and has scored goals wherever he has been. He scored 48 times in 110 matches for Ajax before moving to Italy, where he played for Juventus (26 goals in 92 games), Inter Milan (66 in 117) and AC Milan (56 in 85). He also had a season at Barcelona (22 in 46), in Spain, between playing for the two Milan clubs. He famously fell out with the Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola, who is now also in Manchester, as the manager of Manchester City. Following his time in Italy, Ibrahimovic signed for Paris St.Germain in 2012 and became PSG's all-time top scorer. He scored an amazing 156 goals in only 180 appearances for the club. Ibrahimovic has won league titles in four different countries (Holland, Italy, Spain and France) and will become the first player to win titles in five different countries if he wins the Premier League with Manchester Utd.
It was football from another planet and I loved it. It was technically perfect. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, talking about his time with Barcelona.
What about outside football?
Ibrahimovic is a big taekwondo fan and has practised the sport since he was a child in Sweden and got his black-belt when he was 17 years old. He also received an honorary black-belt from the Italian Taekwondo team when playing for AC Milan. Ibrahimovic is famous for scoring acrobatic goals and many people believe this is due to his ability to kick his legs so high from doing taekwondo. Languages are also an important part of Zlatan's life, he speaks five languages fluently. He speaks Swedish, Bosnian, Italian, Spanish and English. Ibrahimovic is one of the most famous people in Sweden and has received many accolades. He has had a film made about his early life. It is called 'Becoming Zlatan' and has been shown at a number of film festivals. The Swedish post office has released a series of postage stamps with Zlatan's image on them and he has even had a pop song in his honour. The song, called 'Who's da Man' was number one in Sweden for 10 weeks!
Is Ibrahimovic a pop star?
In 2014, Zlatan Ibrahimovic recorded a version of the Swedish national anthem for an advertisement. He complained that the old version of the anthem was boring so he didn't sing it despite being very proud of being Swedish and his mixed heritage. He said that his version of the anthem was much better and many Swedish people agreed with him. In 2015, Ibrahimovic received a gold record because the song had been listened to over 3 million times. The song is called Du Gamla, Du Fria – translated as Thou Ancient, Thou Free. Have a listen. Do you like it or do you prefer watching him on the football pitch?
We are all different, yet equal. My dad is from Bosnia and Muslim. My mother is Croatian and Catholic. But I was born in Sweden and am a Swedish citizen. You cannot change that. Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Quiz - How much did you understand?
What do you think?
Did you watch the Cup Final? Did Manchester Utd deserve to win?
Is Zlatan Ibrahimovic the best striker in the Premier League? How important is he for Manchester Utd?
Does your country have a national anthem? Do people often sing it? Why/why not?