Explosive, Incendiary, Irritating, Entertaining and Engaging! The tone for this singularly unique autobiography is set by a cheeky prologue wherein one of the most venerated footballing coaches managing a team currently, Pep Guardiola is castigated for his ways and branded a ‘coward’. What follows later simply has the power to knock you out cold. Inconvenient truths are tackled head on and raw, festering emotions hurled at your face. This footballing great from Sweden does not believe in layers of presumptuous sophistry or in a story that has as its pastiche refinement or a genteel veneer. The tone is rusty, jarring and brutally honest obfuscating any reference to pretentiousness. The fact that he was a compulsive bike thief is scarred into the reader’s mind many times over, lest she forget that ‘vital’ fact. Condescension, arrogance, haughtiness and pride collude with friendship (a rarity), dysfunctional families and footballing zeniths and nadirs.
The path that Zlatan Ibrahimovic took from the depths of utter poverty to becoming one of the most glamorous and distinctive footballing stars of our time has not been – to use a most abused cliche – a bed of roses. Reprimanded for his erratic behaviour at school and humiliated by the parents of his fellow colleages, Zlatan elucidates with anger about the phase where a specific teacher had to be appointed by the school under the pretext that he was a “special kid”. Attracting controversy like a magnet attracting iron filings, this sorting great is never far from creating a ripple or making news, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. In his book, Zlatan traces the genesis behind many such controversial issues and tries in his own manner to justify their place.
Every goal scored is recalled with glee and delight and the hapless plight of the opponent never getting even the merest hint of sympathy. Coaches and managers are hauled over the coals with barely disguised venom (a commendable exception being the irascible Portuguese manager, Jose Mourinho), and players are ridiculed for their apparent inabilities. All in all this is a one sitting book to be read. The reader however would do well to abhor most of the practical suggestions proferred by the protagonist!
I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – A dynamite of an introduction!