2019. Christmas Eve. Zvonimir Boban was sitting in his house when suddenly the call was waiting for her. “Ten.thirty at night on December 24. An hour and a half before Christmas. The phone rang and his name appeared on the screen. I answered ‘hello,’ and he said, ‘Congratulations, you and Milan have received Ibrahimovic.’ That was his way of telling me we were able to bring him back. What can be said? I could not have wished for myself a better Christmas present. “Three months later Boban was fired from his role as sporting director.
He is 40 years old today. Eternal Man. Perhaps it is more correct to look at him as Peter Pan, a child who refuses to grow up. Flying in the country never surrounded by the lost children, fighting for his private “Captain Hawk”, meaning anyone who does not see him as he sees himself, anyone who refuses to take him seriously.
Zlatan has lived in a dream for years and does not want to wake up. Not even at 40. Always did and said what he wants whenever he wants, be sure to challenge himself and the laws of physics. This is his uniqueness. He never gave a reason to doubt it. Did not agree to give anyone a chance to wake him from the dream. He always knew how to surround himself with a group that suited his measurements at that time.
He was not the best. He did not win the Champions League or a major title with the Swedish team, he did not even win the Golden Ball. He was just Zlatan. A player on my time. The first brand in the world of football.
“I do not have to dream (about football),” he said in an interview with ESPN two years ago. “I dreamed when I was a child. Now I’m in a dream. I’m the dream.” Reminds you a bit of Walter White? Zlatan also needs the dream to live. He was a kid who wanted success as quickly as possible. Faced with bullying and a sense of difference, he had no other answer. He looked different, his name was different and no one made him feel like he belonged. As a child, he did not consider himself 100 percent Swedish. He did feel he had to prove it. That success is his survival. So he did everything impatiently to get to her. Even if it means stealing a bike to get from place to place.
“I worked hard, but I didn’t have the patience. I wanted everything fast. If I could, I would go back and say to myself, ‘Zlatan, be patient. Work hard and believe in yourself.’ These points – hard work and self.confidence – became his ticket. Zlatan is Zlatan. One can fill an entire article with his iconic quotes from the past. Self.love. The crazy images. king. lion. Legend. God. In his eyes (but not only), Zlatan is the show we must see. The dish we must taste. The experience that will not be forgotten for years to come.
Experience is the key word. In essence, Zlatan is closer to a movie star than a football star. Wherever he was, in every “role” he played, he left behind memories. Gave everyone the zlatan experience. It does not matter if you preferred the Zlatan of Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Paris or even the brief guest appearance in Barcelona, Zlatan made sure to steal the show. The man lived in the heyday of Messi, Ronaldo, the grueling feud over who was better and the pile of Vanaviz that came after them, sat aside and laughed. The chase made him laugh. The obsession.
He has not reached their fame, he does not have their talent nor the amount of degrees. He knew it and put up with it. Zlatan did not win the Champions League because he needed a team that fit Bull to his measurements, meaning big enough to accommodate him and not too big to overshadow him. He did not win an international title because, well, he is Swedish and not French, Brazilian or Argentine. He did not agree to change for the sake of the pursuit and still remained proud of his accomplishments. “I do not complain because I have achieved more than many others,” he said recently in an interview with France Football.
When you think of Zlatan, it’s too easy to get dragged into the trendy “class with zero effort” cliché, but that’s not really true. This is a work machine. Numbers he would come to the training camp of the Los Angeles Galaxy and tell the fitness coach “I have to suffer today. When I suffer, I feel good.” He would get the most out of his body until he had difficulty breathing. Until he vomited. The doctor generally banned him from playing the debut game, two days after he landed in LA, due to fatigue. But the crowd demanded, he went in and fired from the air an unforgettable bomb from 40 meters in “El Trafico” – the derby of the City of Angels.
It was a classic Zlatan goal. A move that only he would dare to try. ESPN’s Andrew Corsello likened him to a daring pirate. His genius is in the creativity and cheerfulness that seems childish. His ability to portray himself as a superhero and to set himself artistic, superhuman, ridiculously insane goals is perhaps unique in the history of the game. Zlatan lives on the thin line between genius, madness and ridicule. He is not an easy artist to understand, but one who cannot be ignored.
Zlatan does not consider himself arrogant. He is who he is. Does not pretend. Not fake and not a clown, “people talk a lot,” he claims. “But if you’re not good on the field, if you’re not an icon, you’re a clown.” He wisely uses social media to manage his brand and share his professional life, but is jealous of his private life. He dislikes excessive publicity and for him, whoever calls him derogatory words like arrogant or arrogant, is stupid. In his eyes, Zlatan is not full of himself, he is full of self.confidence.
“I’m just me. People always try to be perfect and create a persona for themselves. I say, ‘When you are, it’s the meaning of perfect. Success has not changed me. I continue to be me and what comes, comes… to be yourself is perfect,” he said. “What will be left of me? Maybe my ideas. Self.belief. Personality, do not be afraid to say what you think even when your opinion is different. Always be open.minded.”
There is not much difference between Zlatan who experienced difficulties in his youth, and the revered idol in Sweden statues of him were built. Success and fame brought Zlatan to where he had dreamed of being, but the difficulties continued to be his motivation. Just like the overly hard training designed to test the limit of his physical ability, so the drive came to continue. Zlatan is at his peak when he is angry. When it is underestimated. When it is said that he is a great player for small games. Anger makes him alive. Anger is his energy.
Perhaps it was precisely the missing points in his career that led him to keep going. Lift yourself up and move on. Do not give up even after the serious injury at United. To come back after he managed a little to tire himself out on the Americans for a luxury club in one in a major league in Europe. Such a transition at 38 is reserved only for virtuous individuals like Zlatan. He does not think like everyone else. It is incapable of accommodating the patterned trajectory that players of its generation go through. Zlatan needs to do things his way. He does not miss, it is you who do not understand him.
“I miss the history of the Golden Ball,” he replies when asked about the prestigious title that drove Messi and Ronaldo crazy. “Everyone wants to win a title that says you are the best player in the world. Deep down, I feel like the best in the world. It could have been prestigious to win the Golden Ball, but the voters chose differently. You (the interviewer – A.M.) and the people who voted, you know why not I won. “
The interviewer insists on a comparison to Messi and Ronaldo. “Quality, I do not fall short of them, in terms of degrees, yes. I do not know how to calculate it. When you do good things collectively, personal achievements come. An individual can not be good if the team is not good.”
In choosing his teams, in managing his career, Zlatan thought about the individual and the team. If he had chosen otherwise, he would not have been true to himself. Yes, he had more degrees, but he was not Zlatan. And would not play until the age of 40. and would not resurrect Milan, to which it had arrived just before sunset in the depths of mediocrity. “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Milan’s way to return to greatness would not have started without him. At the moment, no player in the world could give us what he gives in terms of personality, charisma and mentality on and off the pitch. He is a phenomenon and I will always be grateful,” he said. This week Boban.
The injured Zlatan will not be celebrating his birthday on the pitch. At his request, the festive toast was raised by two days so that all members of Milanello could attend. Is this the last year of his career? With him there is no knowing, but the interview he gave a few weeks ago in France felt a bit like a retirement interview. That word scares him. Peter Pan can not grow up. What would Zlatan be without football? A perfect memory of virtuosity, impudence, self.aviation and mighty volley in conventions. A man who fucking did what he wanted, said what he wanted and somehow always managed to come out, well, an idol.
“During your career, you live within a plan. Get up, eat breakfast, exercise, prepare lunch for you, you go home to spend time with family, recover and the next day, press repeat. That’s how it was for me for 20.25 years. In the morning after retirement, you Wakes up and asks, ‘What the hell am I supposed to do now?’, You’re not part of the show anymore and are entering a new chapter in your life. That’s what scares me. What will I do? “I know what I went through physically and mentally. When my career is over, I want to disappear and enjoy my life.”