Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the most entertaining footballers in the world — both on and off the pitch. But it’s the end of an era as the 41-year-old announced his retirement on Sunday after completing the season with AC Milan. His career spanned 24 years, with stints at Inter Milan, Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United and LA Galaxy.
From incredible strikes to outrageous comments, he constantly kept us on our toes. The soccer world will miss him, but we’ve compiled some of his best quotes.
1. “I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am.”
2. “Swedish style? No. Yugoslavian style? Of course not. It has to be Zlatan-style.”
3. “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”
– When Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered the then-teenaged Ibrahimovic a trial.
4. “What [John] Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”
– In response to Carew’s suggestions that Ibrahimovic’s flicks and tricks were “pointless.”
5. “First I went left; he did too. Then I went right and he did too. Then I went left again and he went to buy a hot dog.”
– On how he twisted Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz inside-out.
6. “When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari. If you drive a Ferrari you put premium petrol in the tank, you hit the motorway and you step on the gas. [Pep] Guardiola filled up with diesel and took a spin in the countryside. He should have bought a Fiat.”
– On his single season at Barcelona where he endured a tense relationship with then-coach Pep Guardiola.
7. “What do you mean, ‘present?’ She got Zlatan.”
– On his ex-girlfriend’s engagement gift.
8. “We’re looking for an apartment. If we don’t find anything, then I’ll probably just buy the hotel.”
– At his unveiling as a Paris Saint-Germain player.
9. “It’s true I don’t know much about the players here, but they definitely know who I am.”
– On his move to Ligue 1 in 2012.
10. “We were looking through his playlist in the dressing room — there was lots of Justin Bieber, Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez. It is nice to know that even David Beckham doesn’t have good taste in everything.”
11. “There was the thought that this would send me into retirement. I sent their entire country into retirement.”
– After scoring twice to qualify Sweden for Euro 2016 over Denmark.
12. “I don’t believe they can change the Eiffel Tower for my statue, even the people behind the club. But if they can, I will stay here — I promise you.”
– On his future with PSG.
13. And there was this famous exchange with a reporter ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifying playoffs:
Zlatan: “Only God knows who will go through.”
Reporter: “It’s hard to ask him.”
Zlatan: “You’re talking to him.”
14. And when Sweden lost to Portugal and failed to qualify?
“A World Cup without me is nothing to watch, so it is not worth waiting for the World Cup.”
15. “Absolutely not. I have ordered a plane. It is much faster.”
– On rumours that he bought a Porsche.
16. “It felt like I had 11 babies around me.”
– On Chelsea players’ response to his red card in the 2015 Champions League quarterfinals.
17. “I don’t give a s— who wins. I’m going on holiday.”
– His response after Sweden were eliminated from Euro 2012.
18. “An injured Zlatan is a serious thing for any team.”
19. “I like fireworks too, but I set them off in gardens or in kebab stands. I never set fire to my own house.”
– His response to Mario Balotelli’s fireworks incident.
20. “I can play in the 11 positions because a good player can play anywhere.”
21. “I didn’t injure you on purpose and you know that. If you accuse me again I’ll break both your legs, and that time it will be on purpose.”
– He didn’t appreciate Rafael van der Vaart’s accusation that purposely injured him.
22. “[Oguchi] Onyewu resembled a heavyweight boxer. He was nearly 6-foot-5 and weighed over 15 stone, but he couldn’t handle me.”
– Ibrahimovic on a tussle with former teammate Onyewu, during which the Swede broke a rib.
23. “If [Wayne Rooney] still wants to move next summer, or in January, I would urge him to come and play with me in Paris … If he did join, he would have to get used to the fact that Zlatan scores even better goals than him.”
24. “It was the fault of David Trezeguet, who made me do one drink of vodka after another. I slept in the bathtub. Now I hold my vodka much better.”
– On having one too many after Juventus’ 2005 title win.
25. “Then Guardiola started his philosopher thing. I was barely listening. Why would I? It was advanced bull**** about blood, sweat and tears, that kind of stuff.”
26. “[Jose] Mourinho is Guardiola’s opposite. If Mourinho brightens up the room, Guardiola pulls down the curtains and I guessed that Guardiola now tried to measure himself with him.”
27. “I don’t think that you can score as spectacular a goal as those of Zlatan in a video game — even though these games are very realistic these days.”
28. “I haven’t met her yet. But when I do, I’ll date her.”
– His response when asked to name the world’s most beautiful woman.
29. “People trashtalk me. I’ve heard so much s— over the years: ‘F—ing gypsy’, stuff about my mum — all that stuff. I retaliate with my body, not with words.”
30. “I came like a king, left like a legend.”
– Zlatan on his PSG departure.
31. “I won’t be the King of Manchester, I will be the God of Manchester.”
– His response to Eric Cantona’s comments that he would be the prince of Manchester.
32. “You can’t coach brilliance like that.”
– On his goal vs. England in 2012.
33. “I think I’m like wine. The older I get, the better I get.”
34. “Who needs a nickname? To be afraid of me, just watch me play”
– His dig at Radamel Falcao, nicknamed “The Tiger.”
35. “If I had played in England I would have destroyed it, like I have everywhere else.”
36. “Keep booing. This is the biggest moment in your year seeing me.”
– His response to the away fans booing at him during his farewell speech.
Never change, Zlatan.