Zlatan Ibrahimović (Bosnian pronunciation:; born 3 October 1981) is a Swedish footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Milan and the Swedish national team for which he is captain.
Ibrahimović started his career at Malmö FF in the late 1990s under Roland Andersson. He was signed by Ajax, and made a name for himself under Ronald Koeman. Years later, he signed with Juventus for €16 million. Ibrahimović gained fame in Serie A, benefiting from his strike partnership with David Trézéguet. In 2006, he signed with league rival Internazionale, where he won individual awards such as the Oscar del Calcio, the Guldbollen, and was named in the 2007 and 2009 UEFA Team of the Year, in addition to finishing as the league's highest scorer in 2008–09 while winning three straight Scudetti. In the summer of 2009, he transferred to Barcelona for €69 million, the second highest transfer fee in football history. His time at Barcelona was short lived however; moving back to AC Milan the following season, in a deal which made him one of the highest paid footballers in the world.
Ibrahimović was born in Sweden to a Bosnian father that immigrated to Sweden in 1977, Šefik Ibrahimović, and a Croatian mother, Jurka Gravić, who emigrated to Sweden, where they first met. Ibrahimović grew up in Rosengård, a Malmö neighbourhood known for its immigrant communities, along with his three sisters and two brothers. After receiving a pair of football boots, Ibrahimović began playing football at the age of six, alternating between local junior clubs Malmö BI and FBK Balkan.He has stated in an interview that while his team was down 4–0 during halftime, he came on as a substitute for his Balkan youth team and dramatically scored eight goals. While in his early teens, he was a regular for his hometown club Malmö FF. At the age of 15, Ibrahimović was close to quitting his football career, in favour of working at the docks in Malmö, but his manager convinced him to continue playing. Ibrahimović successfully completed junior high school in the ninth grade. Though he was admitted to Borgarskolan and had above average grades, he soon dropped out of high school to focus on his football career.
Ibrahimović signed his first contract with Malmö in 1996, and moved up to the senior side for the 1999 season of Allsvenskan, Sweden's top-flight league. That season, Malmö finished 13th in the league and were relegated to the second division, but returned to the top flight the next season. Arsène Wenger unsuccessfully tried to persuade Ibrahimović to join Arsenal, while Leo Beenhakker also expressed interest in the player after watching him in a training match against Norwegian side Moss FK. On 22 March 2001, a deal between Ajax and Malmö regarding Ibrahimović's transfer to Amsterdam was announced, and in July, Ibrahimović officially joined Ajax for 80 million Swedish kronor.
Ibrahimović received little playing time under manager Co Adriaanse, but when Adriaanse was sacked on 29 November 2001, new coach Ronald Koeman inserted Ibrahimović into the starting lineup as Ajax won the 2001–02 Eredivisie title. The next season, Ibrahimović scored twice in a 2–1 victory over French champions Lyon in his Champions League debut on 17 September 2002. He scored four Champions League goals overall as Ajax fell to Milan in the quarter-finals. In his final season with Ajax, Ibrahimović's profile rose when he scored a breathtaking goal against NAC on 22 August 2004, a goal that was eventually voted the "Goal of the Year" by Eurosport viewers. He netted only once in the 2003–04 Champions League (against Celta Vigo on 22 October) as Ajax were eliminated in the group stage.
On 18 August 2004, Ibrahimović injured fellow Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart during an international match against the Netherlands, which led to accusations from van der Vaart that Ibrahimović had hurt him intentionally. This led to Ibrahimović's sudden sale to Juventus on 31 August.
Ibrahimović moved from Ajax to Juventus for €16 million. He was promptly inserted into the starting eleven due in part to top scorer David Trezeguet's injury problems, and scored sixteen goals. Near the end of the season, Juventus reportedly rejected a €70 million bid for him from Real Madrid, which was later revealed to be a publicity stunt initiated by Ibrahimović's agent, Mino Raiola, in order to increase his market value On 14 November 2005, he was awarded the Guldbollen, a prize awarded to the best Swedish footballer of the year.
The following season was poor compared to his first season; his role in Juventus' attack changed, as he became less of a goalscorer and moved more to the sidelines, taking much part in the build-up play, especially as a target player, and his assist numbers increased. In the 2005–06 season, Juventus fans often got frustrated with him due to his anonymous presence in certain important games such as the Champions League defeat to Arsenal. Juventus were stripped of their last two Scudetti as part of the verdict from the Calciopoli scandal, and were relegated to Serie B. The new staff tried to persuade Ibrahimović and other top players to stay with Juventus, but the player and his agent were adamant to move on, with Raiola threatening legal action in order to extricate Ibrahimović from his contract.
On 10 August 2006, Ibrahimović completed a €24.8 million move to Internazionale, signing a four-year-deal,this coming only a few days after Patrick Vieira had completed his transfer. Zlatan revealed that he had supported Internazionale when he was young. He started his spell at the club by scoring one goal and assisting another in a league match against Fiorentina and ended his first season as Inter's top goalscorer with 15 goals. Inter won the league for the first time in 17 years. They finished the league with 97 points, a league record, a feat Ibrahimovic would go on to repeat at F.C Barcelona. During the season Inter also broke the European Big Five League Record for most consecutive wins, 17. The record still stands.
Ibrahimović played his 100th Serie A match on 16 September 2007. His contract was renewed in 2007, it was due to expire in June 2013.He was estimated as the top of footballer wages.He scored two Champions League goals in the group stage against PSV on 2 October, which marked his first European goals since December 2005 and his first goals overall in an Inter jersey, and finished with five goals in seven Champions League matches. Against Parma in the final league matchday on 18 May 2008, he returned from a chronic knee injury and scored both goals as Inter won 2–0, clinching their third straight Scudetto.