Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker with Paris Saint-Germain and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.
Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.
Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.
“I’ve never enjoyed being around uptight people. I like guys who go through red lights, if you know what I mean.”
I’ve always wondered why the need to seek so much attention in front of the footballing world and this book answered that question although I skimmed through some unnecessary chapters.
His story begins as a ‘problem child’ growing up in Rosengård, Sweden. His parents didn’t have time to pay special attention to him and his siblings, but they turned out all right. Yes, he’s flashy and arrogant, but what Zlatan likes the most is the center of attention and when that is taken away from him, he becomes mad.
Perfect example: FC Barcelona.
There, Zlatan was playing at the best football club in the world. He’s scoring goals week in, week out, the fans love him, they scream his name, the center of attention. He manages to sound like a bitter school child when he complained ‘then Messi started saying things.’ Was he dumb then Zlatan? However, I’m reading Messi by Guillem Balague at the moment and the fog became clearer: Zlatan gave Pep an ultimatum: ‘The midget had to be dropped!’ Pep eventually takes away the attention from him, and Zlatan is all mean and bad. There is no Z in team! If we go back to the time when Messi started to ‘talk’ Rijkaard had promised Leo that he would eventually play in the center, but it didn’t materialize until Pep.
Another example: Juventus was relegated to Serie B in 2006 due to a cheating scandal and they had both championships voided. Serie B? Zlatan was too BIG for the second division and even refused to join the team for an away match. He was rude to coach at the time, Didier Deschamps and like the diva who was now used to getting everything he wanted, he called his agent and asked for a move. Juventus wasn’t good for him anymore, but who were the likes of Gigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, and even Giorgio Chiellini, who stayed with the team? Juventus won Serie B and returned to Serie A the following year.
The book was kind of frustrating to read and I’ve had to put it down twice. The third time I returned to it, I just wanted to finish and get it over with hence, I read the remaining 16 or so chapters in one day. Zlatan feels and thinks that he is more important than any club and the reason why the club wins a league or a European Cup is due to his goals. In his mind, he is a god and the team needs him for they’ll lose when he doesn’t play. Basically, the book is Zlatan v the World. He is important and famous and everyone hates him because of that. He needs to get over himself. He has played for some of the greatest teams and scored some beautiful and memorable goals, but he remains bitter and unforgivable.
Zlatan is full of himself, and sadly, some people like his attitude. If you don’t want to read about the cocky, annoying, irritating man that is Zlatan whose dictionary includes 3 main words (stupid, boring and the ‘f’ word), then go out and buy that Pirlo book. It’s supposed to be good. This book was not inspiring, nor was it meant to be. It was just a peek inside Zlatan’s world. The reviewers who called this book the most inspiring book they’ve ever read was not honest with themselves. I am certain some of them gave up halfway, but hey when you got friends in high places eh? 😉
It captures the man that is Zlatan. 4/5.
Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona manager, with his gray suits and brooding expressions, came up to me, looking a little self-conscious.