Zlatan Ibrahimovic left French Champions PSG last summer at the age of 35 and good gracious should anyone say he or she never expected him to sail off to either USA’s Major League Soccer or the Chinese Super League to see out his playing days or better still, hang it all up and head to the beach with his family.
What we got instead was the news of his one year 220 thousand pounds per week deal with Manchester United. Silent doubts were stirred while some critics out rightly stated of how much a dead wood the big Swede will be to the Red Devils.
Crowning the doubts was the fact – unproven though – of how “tough” the English Premier League is and how outsiders will struggle should they dare step into England to try their luck. The fact that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is being called out daily to face this so-called “challenge” should be enough to prove just how brave Ibra’s decision is.
The performances of the former Barca forward so far, where he’s bagged 11 goals in his first 16 matches for Man Utd – only bettered by Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s 12 – has led to a very different tune being sang by English fans these days. From “too old” to “too strong” from “he is going to struggle” to “it seems we’re wrong about him,” many critics have had to eat their words.
His 113 strikes in 122 matches for PSG initially led people to conclude that scoring in Ligue 1 was easier. Judging by his recent showings, it is either scoring in the EPL is not as hard as was thought or Ibra was highly underrated. He is a winner, a fine professional and a fighter. Few things point out sheer dedication and discipline than the sight of a 35-year old playing so well you had thought he was 25.
As Mourinho revealed last week, Ibra enrolled in a yoga class – at the age of 35! – to help him keep up with the physical demands of the league. Yes, that’s how far he is willing to go. One of the hardest things to do in life has always been maintaining the hunger to succeed even after succeeding. For a man that has won almost everything football has to offer, he deserves the highest of accolades.