Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimović (born 3 October 1981) is a Swedish footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Milan and the Swedish national team for which he is captain. Ibrahimović started his career at Malmö FF in the late 1990s under Roland Andersson. He was signed by Ajax, and made a name for himself under Ronald Koeman. Years later, he signed with Juventus for €16 million. Ibrahimović gained fame in Serie A, benefiting from his strike partnership with David Trézéguet. In 2006, he signed with league rival Internazionale, where he won individual awards such as the Oscar del Calcio, the Guldbollen, and was named in the 2007 and 2009 UEFA Team of the Year, in addition to finishing as the league's highest scorer in 2008–09 while winning three straight Scudetti. In the summer of 2009, he transferred to Barcelona for €69 million, the second highest transfer fee in football history. His time at Barcelona was short lived however; moving back to AC Milan the following season, in a deal which made him one of the highest paid footballers in the world. Ibrahimović has two siblings and three half-siblings. His longtime partner is Helena Seger with whom he has two children, Maximilian (born 22 September 2006), and Vincent (born 6 March 2008). He currently resides in Milan, although he visits his summer home in Malmö annually. Ibrahimović received a black belt in taekwondo at the age of 17, where he attended classes at the Malmö Taekwondo club Enighet. Ibrahimović is fluent in Swedish, Croatian, Bosnian, English, and Italian. He is of Bosnian and Croatian descent. The name Zlatan was trademarked in May 2003 by PRV for "most likely being perceived as Zlatan Ibrahimović", which meant that he received exclusive rights to the name for certain products, including sporting goods, clothing, and shoes. He is under contract with Nike and features in their television advertising. He wears the Mercurial boot line and has the names and dates of birth of his sons embedded onto the external sides of his boots. In the fall of 2007, Ibrahimović, with the help of Nike, self-funded a new football pitch in the streets of his hometown of Rosengård: he provided a playing mat, goalposts, lighting, and a modern fence. In 2008, he donated new Nike kits to his youth club, FBK Balkan.

Ibrahimović signed his first contract with Malmö in 1996, and moved up to the senior side for the 1999 season of Allsvenskan, Sweden's top-flight league. That season, Malmö finished 13th in the league and were relegated to the second division, but returned to the top flight the next season. Arsène Wenger unsuccessfully tried to persuade Ibrahimović to join Arsenal, while Leo Beenhakker also expressed interest in the player after watching him in a training match against Norwegian side Moss FK. On 22 March 2001, a deal between Ajax and Malmö regarding Ibrahimović's transfer to Amsterdam was announced, and in July, Ibrahimović officially joined Ajax for Swedish krona 80 million. Ibrahimović received little playing time under manager Co Adriaanse, but when Adriaanse was sacked on 29 November 2001, new coach Ronald Koeman inserted Ibrahimović into the starting lineup as Ajax won the 2001–02 Eredivisie title. The next season, Ibrahimović scored twice in a 2–1 victory over French champions Lyon in his Champions League debut on 17 September 2002. He scored four Champions League goals overall as Ajax fell to Milan in the quarter-finals. In his final season with Ajax, Ibrahimović's profile rose when he scored a breathtaking goal against NAC on 22 August 2004, a goal that was eventually voted the "Goal of the Year" by Eurosport viewers. He netted only once in the 2003–04 Champions League (against Celta Vigo on 22 October) as Ajax were eliminated in the group stage. On 18 August 2004, Ibrahimović injured fellow Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart during an international match against the Netherlands, which led to accusations from van der Vaart that Ibrahimović had hurt him intentionally. This led to Ibrahimović's sudden sale to Juventus on 31 August. Ibrahimović moved from Ajax to Juventus for €16 million. He was promptly inserted into the starting eleven due in part to top scorer David Trezeguet's injury problems, and scored sixteen goals. Near the end of the season, Juventus reportedly rejected a €70 million bid for him from Real Madrid, which was later revealed to be a publicity stunt initiated by Ibrahimović's agent, Mino Raiola, in order to increase his market value. On 14 November 2005, he was awarded the Guldbollen, a prize awarded to the best Swedish footballer of the year. The following season was poor compared to his first season; his role in Juventus' attack changed, as he became less of a goalscorer and moved more to the sidelines, taking much part in the build-up play, especially as a target player, and his assist numbers increased. In the 2005–06 season, Juventus fans often got frustrated with him due to his anonymous presence in certain important games such as the Champions League defeat to Arsenal. Juventus were stripped of their last two Scudetti as part of the verdict from the Calciopoli scandal, and were relegated to Serie B. The new staff tried to persuade Ibrahimović and other top players to stay with Juventus, but the player and his agent were adamant to move on, with Raiola threatening legal action in order to extricate Ibrahimović from his contract.

On 10 August 2006, Ibrahimović completed a €24.8 million move to Internazionale, signing a four-year-deal, this coming only a few days after Patrick Vieira had completed his transfer. Zlatan revealed that he had supported Internazionale when he was young. He started his spell at the club by scoring one goal and assisting another in a league match against Fiorentina and ended his first season as Inter's top goalscorer with 15 goals. Inter won the league for the first time in 17 years. They finished the league with 97 points, a league record, a feat Ibrahimovic would go on to repeat at F.C Barcelona. During the season Inter also broke the European Big Five League Record for most consecutive wins, 17. The record still stands. Ibrahimović played his 100th Serie A match on 16 September 2007. His contract was renewed in 2007, it was due to expire in June 2013. He was estimated as the top of footballer wages. He scored two Champions League goals in the group stage against PSV on 2 October, which marked his first European goals since December 2005 and his first goals overall in an Inter jersey, and finished with five goals in seven Champions League matches. Against Parma in the final league matchday on 18 May 2008, he returned from a chronic knee injury and scored both goals as Inter won 2–0, clinching their third straight Scudetto. Ibrahimović's 2008–09 season started brilliantly, hitting the back of the net in Inter's first league match. His goal against Bologna was voted "Goal of the Year". He scored it with his heel without moving and accurately into the net from a cross by Adriano. Ibrahimović's form in the season had been eye-catching, with clever movement on and off the ball, and his passing had been outstanding, such as his acrobatic pass against Lazio. He ended a month long goal drought against Genoa, handing them their first home loss of the season, making Inter the only team not to lose at home in the league. In the final league game of the season, Ibrahimović scored twice against Atalanta, securing the Capocannoniere for himself by finishing one goal ahead of Marco Di Vaio and Diego Milito with 25 goals in the domestic season.After Maxwell completed his transfer to Barcelona, president Joan Laporta confirmed that there was an agreement in principle between Barcelona and Internazionale for Ibrahimović to join the club in exchange for Samuel Eto'o, plus a fee. Laporta revealed that the negotiations started when he decided to divert a flight, which was originally from Ukraine to Spain, in order to have talks with Massimo Moratti, the president of Internazionale, in Milan. Ibrahimović left Internazionale during their United States summer tour in the World Football Challenge on 23 July 2009 for negotiations with Barcelona, with his last match for Internazionale being against Chelsea. After Internazionale agreed terms with Eto'o and Barcelona with Ibrahimović, Barcelona announced Ibrahimović would arrive on 26 July 2009 and undergo a medical test on 27 July 2009. Ibrahimović passed his medical and was presented to a crowd of over 60,000 at Camp Nou. He signed a 5-year contract, for €46 million ($65 million) and the exchange of Eto'o (valued at €20 million) and loan of Alexander Hleb (with an option to buy for a €10 million fee), with a €250 million release clause, making Ibrahimović worth €66 million ($94 million). However as Hleb deal collapsed, eventually Ibrahimović cost Barcelona €69.884 million (including other fee). Inter received €69.5 million. and part of Inter fee (about 0.45%) redistributed to youth clubs as solidarity contribution (except Juventus).Ibrahimović started the 2009–10 season with his competitive debut for Barcelona on 23 August 2009 by assisting on a goal by Lionel Messi, leading them to the Spanish Super Cup. In his next competitive match, Barcelona won the 2009 UEFA Super Cup. In his third appearance, he scored his first goal in Barcelona's La Liga season opener against Sporting Gijón in a 3–0 win. Ibrahimović went on to score in his next three appearances, thus setting a team record as the only player ever to score in his first four league matches.Ibrahimović scored Barcelona's only goal in the 2009–10 Copa del Rey first leg match of the round of sixteen in a 2–1 loss to Sevilla on 5 January 2010. On 20 January, he was selected in the 2009 UEFA Team of the Year. His first goal of 2010 came on 14 February against Atletico Madrid. In his next appearance, Ibrahimović scored against Stuttgart in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout stage fixture. He was sent off on 6 March in a league match against Almeria, which Barcelona appealed to no avail, and he was suspended for one game. A calf strain during warmups before the next La Liga match following his return from suspension against Athletic Bilbao ruled Ibrahimović out of the second leg 4–1 victory over Arsenal ,in which he scored two goals away from home, the return leg of the El Clásico against Madrid (which Barcelona won 2–0),[39] and the next league match against Deportivo La Coruña. He made his return as a substitute in the 82nd minute in against Espanyol.

On 28 August 2010, A.C. Milan announced on their official website that they had acquired the services of Ibrahimović for the 2010–11 season. He will be loaned out to Milan for the 2010–11 season, with Milan having the option to purchase him outright from Barcelona for €24 million at the end of the season. He made his team debut in a 2–0 loss to Cesena on 11 September, in which he missed a penalty late in the match, and scored his first goals for the club when Milan defeated Auxerre in their first Champions League match of the season on 15 September.He received a 3 match ban after getting a red card during a Serie A match against Bari for punching an opponent in the stomach. He also received another 3 match ban on his return from the previous one for supposedly cursing at the ref. Ibrahimovic stated in his defense that he was talking to himself in frustration. He won his first Scudetto with Milan after a stalemate against AS Roma. He is therefore currently on a streak of eight straight league wins in three different countries and with five different clubs, including the later stripped wins with Juventus. All agreements between Milan and Barcelona have been confirmed on 18 June 2011. Even though Ibrahimović was eligible to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, he chose to play for Sweden, his country of birth. Ibrahimović made his debut for Sweden in a 0–0 friendly against the Faroe Islands at the Värendsvallen on 31 January 2001 in the 2000–01 Nordic Football Championship. His first competitive match was a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on 7 October. Ibrahimović was part of Sweden's 2002 World Cup finals squad who were eliminated in the round of 16 by newcomers Senegal. Ibrahimović was in the starting lineup for Euro 2004, scoring a penalty against Bulgaria and rounding off a fine performance against the solid defense of Italy by scoring a late equaliser. However, he missed a penalty as Sweden were sent home following a shootout loss to the Netherlands. He went scoreless during the 2006 World Cup finals as Sweden were again snuffed out in the round of 16, this time by Germany. He was called up for a Euro 2008 qualifier against Liechtenstein on 6 September 2006, but two days before the match, he violated team curfew by leaving the hotel with teammates Christian Wilhelmsson and Olof Mellberg and visiting a nightclub. Though none of the players consumed any alcohol, they were nonetheless all sent home by Lars Lagerbäck as punishment and did not take part in the match. Mellberg and Wilhelmsson did not appeal the coach's decision, but Ibrahimović felt that it was unjust and therefore refused to take part in Sweden's next qualifiers against Iceland and Spain. He also skipped a friendly against Egypt on 7 February 2007, but ended his self-imposed boycott a month later, and returned for Sweden's loss to Northern Ireland on 28 March. He did not score in any of the 12 qualifying matches; his one goal was disallowed for offside in a 3–0 loss to Spain on 17 November. On 12 November 2007, Ibrahimović was awarded the 2007 Swedish Golden Ball as the "Country's Top Player of the Year." Ibrahimović ended his international goal drought, which had lasted for over two years, against Greece in Sweden's Euro 2008 opener on 10 June 2008, and the next match against Spain four days later. He finished the tournament with two goals as Sweden were eliminated in the group stage by Russia. Ibrahimović scored a goal in a 4–0 win against Malta on 10 June 2009 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier. On 5 September 2009, he scored a last second goal in Stadium Puskás Ferenc against Hungary in a 2–1 win for Sweden in their qualification match. Ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifications, Ibrahimovic was named team captain on his return to the national team.

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