Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a star even when he isn’t in FIFA World Cup 2018
Zlatan Ibrahimovic said his retirement from international football has helped ease pressure on Sweden team at the FIFA World Cup 2018Updated: Jun 14, 2018 18:13 IST
He may no longer be involved with the national team but Sweden great Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s popularity can be gauged by the attention he still commands from the media all over the world.
As the Los Angeles Galaxy forward stepped into the lounge of a five-star hotel at Novy Arbat here to address reporters from various publications across the globe, there were a few cheers from the press contingent.
Most of the room, however, was in rapt attention as soon as the former Ajax, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, PSG and Manchester United striker began to speak as part of a commercial event hosted by a brand he endorses.
“Let’s find a place in Moscow where we can put a Zlatan statue,” he joked in response to a question from a local journalist about his plans in the city.
Asked about the Swedish team’s chances at the World Cup, Zlatan said his retirement from international football has helped ease pressure on the side.
“I think Sweden have less pressure when I am not there. When I am there, we are supposed to win everything. That’s my mentality; I want to win everything,” he said.
From most, this would sound like braggadocio. With Zlatan it is a way of life.
Last year, Sweden goalie Karl-Johan Johnsson had called Zlatan an individualist and said their game would revolve around him when he was around. Now, they play more like a team, he said.
‘Watch out for Germany’
With Sweden playing Germany, Mexico and South Korea in what is expected to be a hotly-contested group, Zlatan said it would be too early to make any prediction. He, however, warned all other World Cup participants of the German team.
“Anything can happen during the World Cup. The important thing is to enjoy the game,” he remarked.
“You know Germany will do good; they always do good. I always say a good team doesn’t have 11 players, they have 22 fantastic players. With Germany, it’s not like they have a star. Their team is the star and that’s why they are so strong. I think the other teams have to watch out for Germany,” he said.
Asked for his message to his compatriots ahead of their World Cup campaign, Zlatan said with a smile, “Just enjoy. No pressure; Zlatan’s not there.”