Monday, September 1, 2014
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Zlatan Ibrahimović says hello to America

The Paris Saint-German and Sweden star wouldn't mind having a bit more recognition in the U.S.

Zlatan Ibrahimović says hello to America

Zlatan Ibrahimović. (Michel Euler/AP file photo)
Zlatan Ibrahimović. (Michel Euler/AP file photo)

UPDATE: Paris Saint-Germain's media relations people sent over a transcript, so I've just posted off that.

A few days ago, I got a seemingly random invitation to a conference call with Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden national team superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimović. I figured I'd see who all showed up to ask questions, and it turned out to be a pretty legitimate crowd.

Ibrahimović delivered a lot of great lines, including a few about possibly playing in America some day. Here are some highlights:

On his place in the race to win FIFA's Ballon D'Or, since Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are always the perennial favorites and he doesn't get mentioned as often:

I think it's a difficult question. You have to see from game to game, because one week Ronaldo is scoring like three goals and the other week Messi is scoring four goals. 

So, I don't know how you do the judgment. Who will win the Golden Ball? Because, if you look at what kind of collective trophies you won during 2013 Ronaldo didn't win and trophies, as an individual, as collective. 

But, I don't know how they look at the judgment. So, I think it will be difficult. But, whoever wins will deserve to win the Golden Ball. So, let's see who wins. And for me, I don't know, I wish the best to win.

[...]

I do pressure myself to do my best. It's up to other people to talk about it. Whoever talks about for the nomination to win the Golden Ball, it's up to other people. I don't like to talk about myself doing it. And, I don't promote myself in that kind of way to win something, because I'm not the one that if I don't win it, I will go out and cry. I will keep on training hard and do my best. 

And, whatever other people say it's up to them, but it's nothing that concerns me or even if they don't talk about - I mean, they talk about me. I don't know how much you see in Europe, but what can I say. 

Like I said, I'm the bad boy. I'm not in that poll position. So, I prefer to be like that.

On possibly playing in Major League Soccer some day:

I don't know. Of course, it can be interesting. I mean, I got the questions before that I'm not nominated for the Golden Ball, so I don't know in America, maybe nobody knows who I am there. So, maybe I should come over and play some seasons so people get to know me. 

[...]

I think it depends from the individual, from the person himself, what kind of interest he has in going to America and playing in the malaise. I mean, I don't know. I can only speak for myself. And, like I said before, it could be interesting to go over to America and try the football there. But, today is not interesting and let's see what happens in the future. 

I still have another three years to play in Paris. And, I will fulfill my contract and after that, I will be 34 or 35. I want to play football, yes. But, I want to give results if I can give. I don't know if I can. If I'm 35 and can bring any results in MLS, maybe I will be too old or something. This, I don't know about. For sure, I want to enjoy football. 

On getting better as a player as he gets older, even though he's now past what is considered to be the peak age in professional soccer:

I think I'm like the wine, you know. The older the wine gets the better it is. So, the older I get, the better I get.

On being mocked by the English media for being selfish and temperamental: 

I try to be myself. And then, you have the media that puts the level of the conversation. So, when you ask a stupid question you get a stupid answer. That's the way it is. And, I just try to be myself in every question I get. 

And, in the beginning, I remember, in my career, I get people building me up like the cocky one he's arrogant. He has a big ego. But, I mean, if you have a big ego, you don't win 20 trophies, collective trophies. So, this is something media makes up and is something I have to live with.

For me, I respect every person, especially the football players, because that's the game I play and that's my area. So, what happens in the media is something for the media. They have to sell their papers. 

And, whatever the English people or press think, they know best. And, the other one doesn't know the best. So, every country has his own philosophies. But, I flow with the rhythm. So, for me, I don't mind. I play my game and I'm very happy, and I think that people around me are very happy. So, it's the way it is.

On facing Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo in a friendly next month, just a few weeks after the two faced off in World Cup qualifying: 

Zlatan will be very cool with Ronaldo. So, say Zlatan will do a good preparation. And, Zlatan will play the game. And then, Zlatan will focus on the rest of the season, for coming 2014. So, Zlatan is very happy for Ronaldo that he's going to the World Cup.*

[* - I can't help noting here that even though Ibrahimović is renowned for speaking in the third person, for most of the press conference he spoke in the first person. And that's how he normally is, by the way. But he was asked a few times by Kick TV's Jimmy Conrad to speak in caricature, and obliged.]

On whether the controversial proposal in France to tax incomes above one million euros at 75 percent will scare soccer stars away from playing in Ligue 1:

I don't think so. We are focused on our football and about the political things, and that we're not pretty involved there. We're just happy to be here and we're very satisfied what happens outside the football, it's the consequences. And, how it will become, how it will be, I don't know. 

We played a game and I just feel sorry because all of this focus on PSG players, on the consequence for the tax thing and that. They should focus on other things than the football player. 

We're just coming here to bring the quality we have and bring results that we can bring and let the people enjoy the football. Because, before Paris - before we came, Paris was a good team, solid team. But, like it is today, today they have something in their hands they didn't have before. So, let's enjoy that and leave the political stuff out from us.

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