NEWS
Saturday March 18 2017
Ibrahimovic spills the beans

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave a long interview to Fabio Capello, covering Manchester United, Juventus, Inter, Milan, Pep Guardiola and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Sweden international sat down with his former Juve Coach Capello for Fox Sports Italia.

“I immediately got a good impression of Juventus, for the team and the club. It was a big step up from Ajax,” said Ibra of his 2004 move.

“We trained a lot, especially in front of goal, and that is where my career really took off at the highest level. It’s important, because the way you train is also the way you play games.

“You told me I had a style similar to Marco van Basten, but in front of goal his movement was better than mine, so you gave me a tape of Van Basten performances and said I should study the way he moves and copy it.

“You sat me down and pressed play, so I watched Van Basten score his many goals. After 10 minutes I looked around the locker room and realised there was nobody else left. It was just me and Van Basten, but I watched it to the end.

“It was wonderful because someone who knows so much about football and won a great deal wanted to help me and I was honoured by that.”

After the Calciopoli scandal saw Juventus demoted to Serie B in 2006, Ibrahimovic moved to their rivals Inter.

“It was a great experience. There were Inter and Milan in pole position. I thought that Inter hadn’t won the Scudetto in 17 years, so if I was to win it here, I’d make history.

“On the final day of the season we knew after 20 minutes that Roma were winning. I had a knee problem, but Roberto Mancini told me I had to go on, even if it hurt. It was raining heavily in Parma.

“When I got on the pitch, I tried to shoot and it went wide. I tried it again and this time the ball went in. I remember everyone on the bench ran on to the pitch and the President was so happy.”

The Swede went on to Barcelona in 2009, leaving an Inter side that would go on to win the Treble under Jose Mourinho, which is where he clashed with Pep Guardiola.

“At the start everything was fine. I’d play and score goals. Then towards Christmas Guardiola changed his system. He told me: ‘I’ll sort it out.’ Game after game I was on the bench. Those who know me well realise that when this happens, I don’t go to the Coach and complain. I get it into my head that I must do more, make more sacrifices.

“When the third game I was on the bench, I thought ok, something is not right. I had no problems. It was still a great experience, I learned a lot both on and off the field. In football situations can change in 24 hours.

“I didn’t have the problem, someone else had a problem with me and didn’t resolve it. I still don’t know what the problem was. Guardiola called me every day to get me to sign for Barcelona, then from one day to the next, the situation changed.

“Naturally facing his Manchester City now gives me even more motivation, which is inevitable after what happened there. It’s a positive thing, not negative. That is the past and I am a man who looks forward. It can never be personal, it’s part of the game.”

Ibrahimovic returned to Italy and San Siro in 2010 for Milan.

“I wasn’t happy with the situation in Barcelona. When I arrived at Milan, I had great hunger and motivation. That was a top team. There was the old guard with Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo, Pippo Inzaghi, Thiago Silva, Robinho and Prince Boateng who had a great campaign. Ronaldinho too.

“I wanted to win at all costs. If I managed to do it with Milan, I thought how many others have won the Scudetto with Milan, Inter and Juventus?

“I remember (Milan Vice-President Adriano) Galliani came into the locker room with the Inter jersey and cut the Scudetto badge off, saying: ‘Now this is ours.’

“I didn’t want to leave Milan. I was sent to Paris Saint-Germain in a package deal with Thiago Silva. It was a risky project, because we didn’t know how it would go. The first year we didn’t have a strong squad and it wasn’t easy for Carlo Ancelotti, but in the second we could see the passion of the Parisians. Anyone who isn’t happy in Paris is mad!

“There are moments in your career when you ask yourself whether to continue or find something else. Manchester United are a challenge. The challenge to change the history of a club that already had a great history in the past.

“In order to raise my level, I had to come to England and prove to everyone what I could do. If I can win in a situation like this, it means I’ve done my job well.

“Plus I already knew Mourinho and what he wants. He tells you things to your face if you’re not doing well and must give more. He manipulates you so that when you are on the pitch, you give 200 per cent. I needed that at my age.

“I could’ve gone to China and put my feet up, but I need a challenge that will motivate me. The Premier League has a lot of fans and you need to keep up a certain tempo.

“There isn’t a dominant force here, like Juventus in Italy, PSG in France, Bayern Munich in Germany or Barcelona in Spain. In England, the team that makes the fewest mistakes is the one that wins.”