Yes, the whole ‘lion’ moniker is a little childish and the third person quotes are, truthfully, horrendously outplayed, but are you going to be the one to tell that to Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Didn’t think so.
The 39-year-old (yes, thirty nine) is one of football’s strongest ever characters, and it wouldn’t look out of place for him to eventually hold a WWE championship at some point. What makes him so polarising and continually talked about, though, is the fact that he’s still so good at football. Like, obscenely good.
Many saw an ACL injury suffered while at Manchester United in 2017 as the lion finally being tamed, especially when his next step was to head stateside to LA Galaxy. No disrespect to MLS, but let’s call a spade a spade, here – it’s often a retirement home with nice kits and good weather.
Ibrahimovic didn’t see it as that, however. It was merely a holiday for him, and he was back in Europe with AC Milan come January 2020 after 53 goals in 58 games for the American outfit. He’s since continued to defy the odds and prove he truly is one of a kind, proving to be the veteran lynchpin that completes a revived, youthful Milan side.
After two months on the shelf, Ibrahimovic bagged a brace on his return to the starting XI in a 2-0 win over Cagliari to send Milan back to the top of Serie A. The club’s leading scorer so far this season, the brace means Ibrahimovic has found the net in nine successive starts for the first time while playing in the top five European leagues in his career. Because he hadn’t broken enough records already.
Oh, what’s that – you want another record breaking stat? Go on then.
The brace also means that Ibrahimovic has scored professional a goal in each of the last 23 years. Sitting somewhere between ridiculously good and ‘Christ, that’s a lot of time’, it’s a stat that continues to prove just how talented the Swede is.
Love him or loathe him for his larger than life character, there’s no denying that he backs it up and more with his consistently clutch performances, no matter where he’s playing his football.
Now all we need is to see him in a two-man strike partnership with new colleague Mario Mandzukic to create a tag team that Vince McMahon would be proud of.