Zlatan Ibrahimovic has given a long interview with il Corriere della Sera about a number of topics including his return to Milan, Gianluigi Donnarumma’s exit and what the future might hold.
Ibrahimovic spoke to the newspaper as part of a promotion for his new book Adrenalina which is out tomorrow, which takes a look back at his rise to becoming one of the game’s biggest stars. His comments were relayed by Calciomercato.com and we have translated below.
“Maradona is a myth. Seeing a documentary about him I decided to go to Napoli, to do like Diego: win the Scudetto. I was tired of America. I thought I would quit. Raiola told me: you’re crazy, you have to go back to Italy,” he said.
“It was done with Napoli; but then De Laurentiis kicked out Ancelotti. So I asked Mino: which team is worse off, that I can change? He replied: yesterday Milan lost 5 to 0 in Bergamo. Then it’s decided, I said: let’s go to Milan. It’s a club I know, a city I like.”
Ibrahimovic and Lukaku dominated the headlines earlier this year when the pair had a very heated altercation during the Coppa Italia quarter-final meeting between the two sides at San Siro.
The Swede said something which certainly rattled the Belgian, who had to be calmed by his team-mates as the half-time whistle blew. After their altercation earlier in the year, a war of words ensued through social media pages.
“Italian Cup derby. He quarrels first with Romagnoli, then with Saelemaekers; I intervene to defend my team-mates, Lukaku attacks me on a personal level. Yet we had been team mates at Manchester,” Ibrahimovic revealed.
“Lukaku has a big ego, he is convinced that he is a champion and he is really strong. But I grew up in the Malmoe ghetto, and when someone comes under me with their heads down, I put them in their place. So I hit him at his sweet spot: Mummy’s rituals. And he lost control. Even if I have an atrocious doubt left…
“We lost that derby. I was sent off. Then I got injured. A lot of bad things have happened. Do you want to see that the Lukaku rite really did it to me? So I asked my believing friends to pray for me. I have to settle the bill with him too. Hope to meet him soon. On the road? But no, these are things that must be resolved on the pitch. I don’t hate anyone, much less Lukaku.”
Ibrahimovic also talked about how he helped transform the training regime at Milan by raising the level of work the players were doing.
“At the beginning nobody ran in training. I faced them one by one, and not on the sidelines, in front of the others: in training you have to kill yourself with work. If I run, if I kill myself, my partner will run and kill himself for me. Everyone understood it, except one. Leao didn’t pay attention to me at first. He got there on his own. In fact he has improved a lot.”
The Swede told an interesting anecdote about his former manager Max Allegri, under whom he won the Scudetto with the Rossoneri in 2011.
“With Milan in the Champions League we had lost 3-0 to Arsenal [in 2011-12] and he was all happy. It is true that we had passed the round, but there was nothing to laugh about, and I pointed it out to him. He told me to think about me, that I’m sh**. I replied that he had made himself sh**, out fear he had brought two goalkeepers to the bench.
“Allegri is very good at managing the locker room, but he needed to have more courage: going to Real Madrid, competing abroad. Instead he made the comfortable choice.”
On Berlusconi: “Too nice. One Sunday I am in the stands at San Siro, he makes me sit next to him. Then he says to me: ‘Ibra, would you mind climbing a seat? A very important person is coming.’ I think a politician is coming, but then comes a beautiful woman, in impressive heels. Berlusconi winks at me: ‘Very important person…’. And maybe for him it really was.”
There was some controversy over the summer when Gianluigi Donnarumma chose to leave Milan and start a new adventure with PSG.
“Gigio is a great goalkeeper. If they had given him what he asked for, he would have stayed at Milan. Now he has to fight to be a starter in PSG.”
Finally, on his future: “The future worries me a bit. With the age of 40 I got a bit of anxiety. Will I be a coach? I don’t know, it’s so stressful … I’ll do something capable of giving me adrenaline. But as long as I hold up, I’ll be a centre-forward. I want to play for the Scudetto until the last day. And go to the World Cup in Qatar.”