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I Am Zlatan

November 09, 2011 by Steve Amoia

Zlatan And His Latest Award
Excerpts of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's autobiography, Jag Är Zlatan Ibrahimovic (I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic), have been recently published in Italian media. According to Stefan Lindblad, a Swedish artist and illustrator, the book will initially be available in Italian, Norwegian and Swedish.

The Swede, in his usual brash and candid style, takes no prisoners in what appears to be a frank account of his footballing career.

Here are a few excerpts translated by me on the following topics:
* Oguchi Onyewu
* Fredrik Ljungberg
* Luciano Moggi
* Internazionale Milano and Massimo Moratti
* AC Milan and Antonio Cassano
* Josep Guardiola
* FC Barcelona

On the training ground row with his former AC Milan teammate, Oguchi Onyewu:
"Siamo stati vicini ad ammazzarci", confessa Ibra, che nello scontro si sarebbe rotto una costola, infortunio messo a tacere dal club rossonero.

"We were close to killing each other," confessed Ibrahimovic, who in the scuffle, broke a rib. An injury that was not disclosed by the Milan club.

On Swedish teammate, Fredrik Ljungberg:
"L'ex compagno di nazionale Fredrik Ljungberg, 'definito una primadonna'".

His former Swedish national teammate, Fredrik Ljungberg, was labeled, 'a primadonna.' "

On His First Meeting with Luciano Moggi of Juventus in 2004 at the airport in Monte Carlo:
"Indossava degli shorts hawaiani, una maglietta Nike e scarpe da jogging senza calze, e ormai era completamente zuppo. Arrivammo nella famosa saletta vip dell’aeroporto e lì dentro c’era fumo dappertutto. Luciano Moggi, in un completo elegantissimo, era alle prese con un grosso sigaro; si capiva subito che era un individuo di potere. Era abituato che la gente facesse come diceva lui. Fissò Mino: «Ma come ti sei conciato?». «Sei qui per dare consigli di stile o per parlare di affari?»

"I was dressed in Hawaiian shorts, a Nike tee-shirt and jogging shoes without socks and already completely drenched. We (his agent Mino Raiola) arrived at the famous VIP gate of the airport and inside there was smoke everywhere. Luciano Moggi, in an elegant suit, was struggling with a huge cigar. You understood right away that he was a powerful guy. He was used to people doing as he said. Mino began attentively, 'But look how you are dressed?' 'Are you here to give me fashion advice or to talk about business?' "

On his time at Internazionale Milano:
Li odiai fin dal primo giorno, e non dipendeva soltanto dal fatto che io venivo da Rosengård, dove ci si mischiava senza problemi: turchi, somali, jugoslavi, arabi. Era anche perché l’avevo visto già molto chiaramente, sia alla Juventus sia all’Ajax: tutte le squadre rendono molto meglio quando fra i giocatori c’è coesione. All’Inter era l’opposto. Là in un angolo stavano seduti i brasiliani; gli argentini stavano in un altro e tutti gli altri in un terzo. Era una cazzata. Così considerai come mio primo grande test da leader porre fine a quella situazione. Andavo in giro e dicevo: «Cos’è questa storia? Perché state lì seduti tra di voi come dei bambini?». Quelle barriere invisibili erano troppo nette. Perciò andai nuovamente da Moratti, e fui più chiaro possibile. L’Inter non vinceva il campionato da secoli. Volevamo andare avanti così? Dovevamo essere dei perdenti solo perché la gente non aveva voglia di parlarsi? «Ovviamente no» disse Moratti. «Ma allora bisogna rompere questi dannati clan. Non possiamo vincere se lo spogliatoio non è unito.»

"I hated it there from the first day and it wasn't only due to the fact that I came from Rosengard. Where we all interacted without problems: Turks, Somalis, Yugoslavians and Arabs. It was also because I had already seen it very clearly whether at Juventus or Ajax: All teams do much better when there is cohesion between the players. At Inter, it was the opposite. There in one corner sat the Brazilians; the Argentineans were in another and all of the rest in a third corner. It was a mess. I considered this my first real test as a leader to clean up that situation.

I went around the room and said, 'What's going on here? Why are you seated like children?' Those invisible barriers were too distinct. For that reason, I went again to Massimo Moratti (President of Internazionale) and was as clear as possible. Inter hadn't won a title in decades. Do we want to go ahead like this? Do we have to be losers only because guys don't want to speak to each other? 'Obviously not,' said Moratti. 'But now we need to break up these damned clans. We can't win if the dressing room isn't united.'"



On AC Milan and Antonio Cassano:
"Cassano ha un po’ la fama del bad boy come me, gli piace mettersi in mostra e parlare di sé come di un giocatore fantastico. Il ragazzo spesso ha avuto problemi con compagni e allenatori, fra l’altro con Capello ai tempi della Roma. Ma Antonio ha una meravigliosa qualità nel suo gioco. Mi piace davvero, e con lui siamo diventati una squadra ancora migliore..."

"Cassano has some fame as a bad boy as I do. He likes to showcase himself and speak (of himself) as a fantastic player. The lad often has had past problems with teammates and coaches. Among them Fabio Capello during his spell with AS Roma. But Antonio has a marvelous quality in his play. I really like it. And together with him, we've become an even better team."

On the day that Milan won the Scudetto last year:
«Fai qualcosa a Cassano laggiù!». «Tipo cosa?» «Tiragli un calcio, tu sei quello del kung fu, no?» e certamente, lo ero, fin da quando io e papà guardavamo i film di Bruce Lee in tv, quindi perché no? Eravamo tutti su di giri, e Cassano era un bel tipo. Un calcio poteva anche fargli piacere…"

"Someone said 'Do something to Cassano up there (while he was being interviewed on television.) 'Like what?' 'Go up and kick him. You are the Kung Fu master, right?' And surely, from the time that my father and I watched Bruce Lee films on television, why not? We were all running around and Cassano was a great guy. A kick could have made him happy."

(Translator's Note: Ibrahimovic earned a black belt in Tae Kwan Do as a teenager.)

I Am ZlatanOn Josep Guardiola:
L'episodio più brutto - secondo quanto riferisce il quoridiano Aftonbladet, che pubblica estratti del libro - si è verificato dopo una partita di Liga fra Villarreal e Barcellona, nella quale Ibra partì in panchina e giocò solo 5 minuti. I blaugrana erano stati eliminati da poco in Champions dal'Inter di Mourinho. Lo svedese racconta nel libro di avere affrontato Guardiola in una sala semideserta degli spogliatoi. "Gli ho gridato, non hai le palle! E sicuramente cose anche peggiori", come "te la fai addosso con Mourinho" o "vai all'inferno", racconta sempre lo svedese ora del Milan. Ibrahimovic aggiunge di avere perso il controllo e di avere colpito con un pugno una struttura metallica facendola cadere a terra. "Ero veramente infuriato, e Guardiola mi guardava negli occhi". "Fossi stato in lui, avrei avuto paura".

"The worst episode, according to the excerpt of the book published by the Aftonbladet newspaper, happened after a league game with Villarreal and Barcelona. Ibrahimovic started on the bench and only played five minutes. Barcelona was shortly thereafter eliminated by Mourinho's Internazionale in the Champions League. The Swede recalled in the book how he confronted Guardiola in a semi-deserted area of the dressing room:

I yelled at him. You don't have any balls! And surely worse things, such as, 'Go ask Mourinho,' or 'Go to hell!'"

Ibrahimovic lost control and struck a metal item making it fall to the ground. 'I was really pissed off, and Guardiola looked me in the eyes. If I were him, I'd have been scared.'"

On His Barcelona Teammates:
"Guardiola che vieta ai giocatori di arrivare agli allenamenti in auto di lusso: "Dovete tenere i piedi per terra, qui non entrano Porsche e Ferrari" diceva Pep. Ibra così, per provocare, arrivò un giorno al Camp Nou in Ferrari. A suo avviso, i giocatori del Barcellona invece si comporterebbero come tanti "ragazzi a scuola", obbedendo alle direttive del tecnico. "In Italia non è cosi", afferma lo svedese. Il tecnico catalano non gli ha mai risposto per le rime."

"Guardiola prohibited the players from arriving at training sessions in luxury cars. 'You have to keep your feet on the ground. No Porshes or Ferraris can come in here,' said Pep. Ibrahimovic, to provoke him, arrived one day at the Camp Nou in a Ferrari. According to him, the Barcelona players behaved like so many 'school children,' obeying the orders of the manager. 'In Italy, it's not like this,' the Swede confirmed. The Catalan manager never responded to the taunts from him."

Pep Guardiola took the higher road yesterday in a quote published by various Italian media: "I continue to wish Ibrahimovic all the best."



Italian Source of Quotes
Ibra: "Onyewu? Che rissa Vicini ad ammazzarci", La Gazzetta dello Sport; 7 Nov. 2011.
Ibra: «Le lacrime Moggi, e quei clan all'Inter» Corriere dello Sport; 8 Nov. 2011.
"Ibra attacca Guardiola, tifosi del Barça in rivolta"; Corriere dello Sport, 4 Nov. 2011.


Steve Amoia is a freelance writer, book reviewer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries and The Soccer Translator. You can follow Steve @worldfootballcm on Twitter.


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