With the nation gripped to watching England take on Ukraine, and Sweden already heading home early, Ibrahimovic produced a moment of magic to net the opener in their 2-0 win over France. The victory ended Les Bleus’ 24-match unbeaten run, while the elegant front-man, after the encounter and quizzed as to who he wants to win Euro 2012, proclaimed: “I don’t give a shit who wins the Euros now. I’m going on holiday. Hopefully in Sweden, but if the weather’s bad, I’ve got an aeroplane ready.”
Italy looked on course to secure a vital win to improve their hopes of securing Euro 2004 glory and were heading into the encounter 1-0 up against the plucky Swedes. A late corner and, understandably, the Scandinavian’s threw everyone forward. After a small game of pinball in the 18 yard box, the ball broke free, with Ibrahimovic capitalising sublimely, leaping six feet in the air to backheel over Gianluigi Buffon and into the top corner. The goal all but condemned Italy to an early exit following a 2-2 draw between Sweden and Denmark in the final round of group games.
In 2001, Ibrahimovic became the most expensive Scandinavian since John Carew after signing for Ajax for 80m Swedish Kronor. However, it wasn’t until his final season with the Eredivisie giants that Zlatan really made a name for himself. In an encounter with NAC Breda, the powerful striker took it upon himself to smash his way through his opponents back line having picked up the ball around 30 yards out. The strike was eventually voted ‘Goal of the Year’ that year by Eurosport viewers.
I envision the thoughts going through Ibrahimovic’s head prior to his striker were ‘f**k it, just smack it’. A pre-season friendly against Portuguese outfit Benfica and with just six minutes on the clock, Juventus instigate an attack. Zlatan does well to hold off the challenge of the defender before spotting Quim off his line. The Sweden international tee’s himself up before smashing a thunderous effort from 35 yards out that crashes off the underside of the bar and nestles in the back of the net.
Back when Adriano was nicknamed the emperor for all the right reasons, he and Zlatan formed an effective partnership under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho. The Brazilian picks up the ball on the left wing and after beating his marker, smashes a ball across to the near post. Typical Ibrahimovic, however, wasn’t content with holding the ball up or making life tough for the defender, no sir. Instead he extravagantly back heels inside the near post, leaving Francesco Antonioli rooted to the spot.
Another pearler to pick form Ibrahimovic’s bunch, again during his three year stint with Inter Milan. The Sweden star picks the ball up on the right and has plenty of space to run into. Despite the best efforts of the Reggina defenders, Zlatan effortlessly dodges three challenges before lobbing Christian Puggioni for his second and Inter’s third that afternoon.
32 metres out and it’s perceived any player would be daft to go for goal for such a distance. Not our Zlatan, however. With chubby Frenchman Sebastien content with the position of his wall, it appears any effort would be comfortably defended. Yet, Ibrahimovic powers up to the ball and strikes it with such velocity that it’s a shock the crossbar wasn’t uprooted from the ground.
Halfway through his loan spell back in Milan, this time with AC, and a hopeful punt is lofted upfield three minutes into the second half. Having held off the treat for so long, Lecce eventually succumbed to the threat of Zlatan. The front-man brought the ball down exquisitely and with his back to goal, lofted a perfectly weighted strike over Antonio Rosati.
An attacker surrounded by defenders would be the time to pick out a teammate, possibly in a better position. Yet, Zlatan took it as a personal challenge. After receiving the ball in the 18 yard box, Ibra doodallied for a second or two before taking one touch to knock the ball to his right and a second to almost take the net off the goal frame, smashing into the roof of the Brescia net to guarantee Milan the win that evening.
Many look upon Zlatan’s time with Barcelona and deem it a failure, such was his relationship with Pep Guardiola and eventual sale to Milan. However, 22 goals and 13 assists isn’t a record to be scoffed at. During an encounter with Atletico Madrid, Ibrahimovic was at his brilliant best, receiving a perfectly weighted ball from Sergio Busquets and delicately lofted the ball over Roberto to score the opener in the eventual 5-2 win for the Blaugrana.
Come on, I couldn't not include it, could I?