Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to be honoured with a statue in his home country after winning the Golden Ball award (given to Sweden’s best player) for the tenth consecutive year. The notoriously extrovert 35 year-old Swede “appreciated” the gesture, noting that “most people do not get a statue until they have passed away”. David Beckham, a former teammate at Paris Saint Germain, paid tribute to Ibrahimovic at the awards ceremony.

The statue will stand outside the Friends Arena in Stockholm, venue of one of his finest performances in a Sweden shirt. England fans should remember it well, as it was where he put the Three Lions to the sword by scoring all four goals in a 4-2 friendly win.

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The fourth goal, a bicycle kick from an improbable angle more than 30 yards out, will arguably go down as one of the greatest in history.

Any excuse to watch it again…

One of the greats

Striker Ibrahimovic is undoubtedly the best-known player to come out of Sweden, partly because of his #Football and partly due to his personality and unwavering self-belief. His international record compares with the best in the world. He finished his Sweden career after Euro 2016 as his country’s highest scorer with 62 goals in 116 games.

As part of a Sweden side lacking in star players, Ibrahimovic has rarely come close to international honours. But he has more than made up for that at club level. He has won 11 domestic league titles in four countries with five different clubs: Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG.

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He has scored 381 goals in 646 appearances for a total of seven clubs. All of his clubs rank among the top sides in Europe, the latest being Manchester United. Ibrahimovic signed for United on a free transfer after a remarkable final season at PSG in which he netted 50 goals. Age is seemingly only a number for Zlatan.

But his form has been patchy for United. A return of six goals in 11 Premier League games looks reasonable enough, though that statistic masks a run of six games without a goal up until the recent victory at Swansea. United will hope Zlatan is inspired by his statue to lift himself to the heights of previous years.

Popular figure

Regardless of form, Ibrahimovic is one of the most marketable footballers around today. He will have generated an enormous amount of revenue for United just through shirt sales. He is famously confident in his own ability, and has given us some outstanding quotes over the years.

When Arsène Wenger offered him a trial at Arsenal, Ibrahimovic reportedly said “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions”.

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Former Norway striker John Carew had the nerve to question the need for some of his skills. Zlatan responded “what Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange”.

Sweden missed out on qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Ibrahimovic said “a World Cup without me is nothing to watch”. Finally, who can forget Ibrahimovic’s self-deprecating tweet when he departed PSG after four successful years.

#Manchester United