Zlatan Ibrahimovic has provided yet another philosophical reflection on how he has had a career at the top for over two decades, including how he imparts his wisdom on Milan’s young squad.
Ibrahimovic spoke to Prime Video on the eve of the game in the Spanish capital, with his words relayed by MilanNews, starting with an update on his own personal condition. Despite the results of the first four rounds, Milan still have the opportunity to go through and Ibra is well aware.
“We prepare as always: physical work, concentration and we study the game plan. As long as I am physically well, I follow the things that make me do with balance, and if I am physically well I am present,” he said.
“The first leg? We played well for as long as there were ten of us left. It is difficult to play with one less man, especially in the Champions League against the strongest teams in Europe. But we are confident and focused. We know what we can do and how good we are. Then every game has its ‘life’, and we try.”
The Swede was full of praise for Diego Simeone, who has led Atletico Madrid on a journey that now spans over 10 years, establishing himself as one of the best coaches in Europe during that period.
“He is a great coach, he has done great things with Atletico Madrid. You can see that he is alive on the bench, that he has a lot of emotion and a great mentality, with winning attitudes and mentality. Then each has their own character, but it is something that affects me and stimulates me,” he said.
“When you have these people it’s an advantage. You already know they want to win and have a winning mentality. I met Simeone once in Formentera, we said hello and we talked a bit. But nothing more, there was no possibility of going to Atletico.”
Ibra was asked what he will tell his team-mates in the locker room before the game to charge them up, given his reputation as a leader on and off the field for the Rossoneri.
“I talk a lot and I feel I have responsibility. I don’t program it, when one is a leader it’s not because others say it, you are automatic. Everyone takes their responsibilities and whoever feels like talking and saying what they think to push and give courage must come naturally. It’s not ‘Ibra now you have to talk to them’ or ‘Simon, now you have to talk’, it’s not like that.
“Everyone does his or her thing to prepare and focus. Then if he does even more to help his team-mates, it comes naturally. The words I say come to me right there at the moment. I don’t prepare them, it’s impossible.
“Am I satisfied? I have a problem, which is that I am never satisfied. I always want to do more, and that’s my mindset. It is not that I have to demonstrate, but I have to do something more to feel alive and to feel that I am present.
“I don’t want to be here for something I’ve done before, I want to be here for what I do in the present. I like to work, I like to suffer, I like this world that is alive. Then the more you age, the more you change: physically, mentally. But an intelligent person adapts to everything.”
Finally, Zlatan was asked what it takes to be successful and to stay at the highest level, as well as how he helps his younger team-mates from a mentality point of view, to encourage them and help them develop.
“Everyone has dreams, everyone has a vision. But it takes a lot to get there. You have to believe in it, have the desire and be ready to make sacrifices and suffer. It’s not like you snap your fingers and it all comes to you automatically. It all depends on you.
“Nobody believed in me, in what I did, but I didn’t give up. I carried on with this confidence, with the thought that I am the best of all. This mentality brought me forward. I proved that anything is possible and it all depends on you. It depends on how ready you are to give and do to arrive there. I gave the best I could. I came almost out of nowhere, I’m not saying I had nothing to eat but my condition was not like that of others.
“I have been at this level for 20-25 years, I have gone from the most negative to the most positive and I bring this experience to them. I give them the keywords, key work to do what you have to do. Then it depends on them, everyone has to take their responsibilities. You are young, yes, but after a while you grow up and have to take responsibility. Then it depends on what level you want to reach.”