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It’s fair to say Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always had an eye for the spectacular.
Born in Sweden to a Bosnian father and Croatian mother, the towering talisman was forced to overcome life’s hardships from an early age as he set about establishing himself as one of football’s most iconic superstars. His is quite the story.
Renowned for his bolshy and arrogant demeanour, the Swedish striker has always maintained a ruthless streak as he’s slammed in over 570 goals in an illustrious career that has seen him conquer most of Europe.
Having played in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France, England and the United States, as well as his homeland, the prolific Ibrahimovic has dazzled and defied belief as he’s fired his teams to a total of 31 trophies.
Nine years on from his four-goal masterclass against England, Daily Star Sport takes a look at the Swedish sensation’s ten greatest strikes, including that brilliant bicycle kick against the Three Lions.
10. The Fiorentina free kick (2009)
Having already put Inter Milan ahead earlier in the match, Zlatan stood over a last-minute free kick 32 metres out from Fiorentina’s goal.
The sulky Swede then stepped up to unleash a piledriver of a strike which hit a top speed of 68mph as it rocketed past the hapless Sebastien Frey and cracked in off the underside of the crossbar.
An angry Ibra was mobbed by teammates as he gesticulated to the adoring crowd and even earned himself a handshake from opposition forward Adrian Mutu – it was just that good.
9. The Bologna backheel (2008)
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The prolific poacher found himself tightly marked at the front post as fellow Inter Milan forward Adriano took on his man over by the corner flag.
The Brazilian whipped in a dangerous cross before Ibrahimovic defied physics, somehow guiding the ball into the back of the Bologna net with a crafty backheel volley.
A long-locked Zlatan then stood motionless with his arms aloft and a knowing smile on his face while the rest of his teammates watched on in disbelief.
8. The Lecce lob (2011)
With Milan on the backfoot early in the second half at Lecce, the ball was thumped down field, a lost cause for Ibrahimovic to chase from his own half.
After the ball bounced once, a dogged Zlatan shrugged off a backtracking Lecce defender 25 yards from goal before instinctively hitting a left-footed half-volley.
The ball looped over the unsuspecting opposition keeper and into the far top corner as the Swede created a goal out of nothing. It was pure genius. Pure Zlatan.
7. LA Galaxy debut delight (2018)
With 20 minutes to play and his new side 3-1 down to city rivals LAFC, Ibrahimovic entered the field of play to announce himself to the LA Galaxy fans. And boy did he do it in style.
You would think the pressure might have been too much having theatrically taken out a full-page advert in the Los Angeles Times simply stating ‘Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome’ before officially signing, but not for Zlatan.
After latching on to a loose bouncing ball just inside the opposition’s half, Ibrahimovic struck a sumptuous effort which soared over the stranded keeper’s head.
“LAFC have just been Zlataned!” cried the astonished American commentators. “Did you think he was going to live up to the billing? Of course, he did!”
In true Zlatan style, he then went on to nod home an injury-time winner to complete the epic comeback. True Hollywood script stuff.
6. Improvising against Italy (2004)
Ibrahimovic announced himself on the world stage when he scored this spectacular effort in Sweden’s 1-1 draw with Italy at Euro 2004.
With the ball bouncing around the Italian’s penalty area following a Swedish corner, Ibra unleashed a kung-fu style backheel flick after beating the onrushing Gianluigi Buffon to the ball.
The effort looped nonchalantly over a bemused Christian Vieri, who stood guard on one of the posts, as it miraculously found the top corner.
5. France flamboyance (2012)
Eight years later, Ibrahimovic was at it again in the Euros against one of the continent’s biggest names.
Sebastian Larsson clipped a cross back to the edge of the French penalty area where Ibrahimovic stood menacingly.
In a flash, the Swedish marksman twisted his body before drilling an acrobatic airborne volley into the bottom corner. Ooh la la!
4. Netting number 500 v Toronto (2018)
You just knew Zlatan would have something special saved up to mark the occasion of his 500th career goal and this one was simply unique.
LA Galaxy teammate Jonathon dos Santos floated a delightful ball over the top as Ibra raced in behind the Toronto backline.
The Swedish striker back-peddled towards goal before spinning in the air and sending a karate-kick style volley into the bottom corner. You may never see the like again.
3. An astonishing arrow against Anderlecht (2013)
In his PSG pomp, Ibrahimovic was simply unplayable at times.
This was no more evident than his Champions League masterclass in Anderlecht when he netted four goals, including a first-half hat-trick.
A stunning backheeled flick for the first wasn’t even his best that night as the third of his four was absolutely breath-taking.
Latching on to a loose bouncing ball 25 yards from goal, the Swedish superstar smashed a rocket into the top corner as he nearly burst the net. “You won’t see a better goal than that!” lauded a stunned commentator.
2. Bicycle kick brilliance v England (2012)
Another match in which Ibrahimovic netted four times, the striker put England to the sword into 2012 as Sweden opened their new 50,000-seat Friends Arena in style.
Ibrahimovic proved to be England’s nemesis on that memorable night with the best of the four in a 4-2 triumph an outrageous overhead kick 30 yards from goal.
In the dying moments, Ibra chased down a thumped clearance over the top which was met by the onrushing England stopper Joe Hart.
The keeper tamely headed clear after leaving his penalty area, however, the ever-alert Ibrahimovic read his intentions.
After backing off, Zlatan then took flight, connecting cleanly with Hart’s looped header to send an astonishing acrobatic effort into the net. It really did defy belief.
1. A stunning solo strike against NAC Breda (2004)
Ibrahimovic always had an eye for the spectacular, even as a youngster back in his Ajax days.
For his greatest ever goal, Zlatan picked up the ball 30 yards from the NAC Breda net before embarking on quite the adventure.
The Swede feigned to shoot on three occasions as he jinked his way past five opposition players before rolling the ball calmly past the baffled Breda goalkeeper.
It was a magical strike from a mercurial talent that proved to be an ominous sign of what was to come.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- England Football Team
- Ajax FC
- PSG FC
- Inter Milan FC
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