Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born in Malmö in southern Sweden in 1981 to parents from Yugoslavia. His father was a Muslim from Bosnia who migrated to Sweden in 1977; his mother was a Catholic from Croatia. Tall, powerful, super-confident and a born goalscorer, Zlatan attracted attention from big European clubs. In 2001 he joined Ajax; two years later he signed for Juventus of Turin.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a big player at big clubs. He moved from Juventus to AC Milan, winning three Serie A titles. In Spain, he won trophies with Barcelona. In France, he won four Ligue 1 titles at Paris St Germain. Zlatan also played 100 times for Sweden (and scored all four goals in a famous 4-2 victory over England). He had brief periods playing in Los Angeles and Manchester United before going back to AC Milan. Even at 38 years old he is still in demand at the top of the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always been a divisive personality. Charismatic and opinionated, he has often been criticised as “arrogant”. He fell out with other players (and managers, Pep Guardiola ended up not speaking to him at Barcelona). His autobiography, Being Zlatan, published in 2015, caused much controversy. He is one of the few active footballers to have a statue in his honour, in Malmo. Perhaps predictably, the statue has frequently been vandalised.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a big personality with a high public profile. Few footballers have had a statue in their honour, or published an autobiography, while still active as a player. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has done both. His dual identity as one of Sweden’s finest players and as a man of Yugoslav heritage has made him a source for fascination and controversy.
Educators could look at the life story of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and work with young people to consider these points.
Find out more
Upon his arrival to play in the United States, the newspaper LA Times wrote this interesting back story.
Zlatan Ibrahimović playing for LA Galaxy (Photo: Jamie Smed, Wikimedia Commons).
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a big personality with a high public profile. His story is one about identity, migration and cultural background.
LIFE STORIES To discover now
Do you wanna know more?
HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS
Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.
Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.
Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.
In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.
Fergus Sutter was one of the first (semi)professional footballers, playing against aristocratic players. A story of origins.
LATEST POST You may also be interested in
Although there have only been ten female referees in the top leagues of men’s football in Europe over the last 30 years, seven of them are currently active.
Where are the women’s football quartet cards?
Teaching students about the causes of football hooliganism through the analysis of case studies and development of potential solutions.
What moments in football history have we highlighted in the last month? How do they provide us with historical mirrors to the present?
On this day in 1981 a game that never happened took place. Or: How can counterfactual history help us shift perspectives?