As artist Paul Trevillion analyses Ibrahimovic's wonder goal, Sportsmail looks as why we all now know he's a genius…
07:50 GMT, 16 November 2012
Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave himself the perfect 10 but for once he may have been guilty of underestimating his own importance.
For a start there was the wonder goal, a 30-yard propeller kick, the final piece in his four-goal demolition of England which quickly became an internet sensation, hailed as one of the best goals ever.
But there was more to it, because after a night when the Swedes declared their handsome new national stadium open for business, their captain’s heroics were considered capable of healing social wounds and stemming the rise of the political far-right in the country.
Even in slow motion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's incredible acrobatic propeller kick is difficult to comprehend. He is 6ft 5in and 15st, so how did he leap eight feet in the air to score a 30-year goal Artist Paul Trevillion explains…
1: Quick of thought and totally focused, he sights the ball and bends his knees to prepare
2: The non-kicking left foot leaves the ground first
3: The left foot's rapid upward swing gets him airbourne
4: In mid-air, he brings the kicking foot into play
5: The right foot strikes the ball in a looping goal-bound trajectory
6: The momentum of the strike spins him over before landing and celebrating
Main man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates his goal
It was, in short, some performance. ‘Zlatan’s Arena’ wrote the newspaper Expressen in honour of Ibrahimovic, who was born in Sweden of mixed Balkan descent. He is, indeed, some footballer, although it wasn’t always quite like this. Just as England debate how to get the best from Wayne Rooney, the Swedes for years did the same with their talisman.
Ibrahimovic had everything a modern centre forward might want and he won the title each year, be it with Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona or AC Milan. Yet rarely did he summon such form with any consistency in a Sweden shirt.
When England beat the Swedes in a friendly at Wembley this time last year, he was anonymous, apparently uninterested, emitting strong vibes of impatience at the failings of his team-mates. It came soon after the publication of his book I, Zlatan in which he dared to criticise Pep Guardiola and recalled how he told the all-conquering Barcelona boss: ‘I am a Ferrari and you are driving me as if I am a Fiat.’
His strike-rate against English teams
had been appalling, even though in 2010 he scored twice for Barca
against Arsenal. Despite his unwavering self-belief, Ibrahimovic was
conscious of popular opinion in England. The statistics would roll out
every time he played here, along with the fact that, for all his
posturing arrogance, he has failed to win the Champions League.
This year, however, something changed
regarding Ibra the Enigma and his relationship with English football.
It started when AC Milan destroyed Arsenal in the San Siro in February.
Ibrahimovic scored once but there was more.
was majestic as he orchestrated a 4-0 win for the Italian champions and
he tormented England again in Kiev at Euro 2012, where he was the best
player on the pitch despite defeat, as he embraced his new
responsibilities in the national team.
Erik Hamren took control he made a significant tactical tweak,
abandoning the 4-4-2 formation to which Swedish football had been wed
for many years.
adopted the increasingly fashionable 4-2-3-1 system but Ibrahimovic, who
seemed to be the perfect centre forward for such a system, would be his
playmaker in the No 10 role, as well as his captain.
Stockholm, the stage was set as Sweden declared its new 50,000-seat
Friends Arena open for business with the nation locked in a debate about
immigration, prompted by growing support for far-right party Sweden
Ibrahimovic, born in Malmo to parents
from Bosnia and Croatia, is a totem for Sweden in the 21st century and
his heroics against England on Wednesday were celebrated across the
recovering from four down to draw 4-4 with Germany in a World Cup
qualifier last month, Swedish fans rejoiced in a thrilling 4-2 win
against England, the beauty of the final goal and one of the great
individual efforts. But there was more.
dubbed him ‘Sweden’s Pride’, and Pontus Wernbloom said: ‘They probably
weren’t happy with that, the idiots. I hope Zlatan shut them up.’
Kallstrom added: ‘He is a modern Swede who stands for new Sweden. With
foreign-born parents and certain problems in society, he can hopefully
unite the country in a good way.’
If he does this, Ibrahimovic may be
justified in upgrading the mark he awarded himself for his contribution
to Swedish football from a 10 to an 11.