Zlatan Ibrahimovic has done enough in his football career to get away with just about anything but 12 years ago he was just a cocky, albeit supremely talented, 22-year-old playing for Ajax.
The enigmatic Swede, now of Manchester United, is considered one of the finest footballers in the world and got his Premier League adventure off to the best possible start by scoring against Bournemouth at the weekend.
He is now at a point where everything he does seems to turn to gold but the 34-year-old has had to come through some turbulent times to get there. One such moment came when still playing under Ronald Koeman at Ajax where he was only just starting to make a name for himself.
It was a friendly international match between Sweden and Holland in August of 2004 and Ibrahimovic's side were playing with an extra dose of motivation in an attempt to avenge their defeat against the same side in that summer's European Championships.
This, one of his most controversial moments in the game, is eloquently retold in the upcoming documentary 'Becoming Zlatan'.
Ibrahimovic was especially keen to get a result and threw himself into every challenge with full force despite the fact he was playing against several of his Ajax team-mates. Then, his club captain Rafael van der Vaart tried to take the ball off of him. Ibrahimovic dived across to defend it and landed a foot right on Van der Vaart's ankle, tearing his ligaments.
While the Dutchman writhed around in pain, Sweden scored the opening goal of the match. Ibrahimovic celebrated and then walked away like nothing had happened. The commentator, as you can hear, is less than impressed with his actions.
You can watch it in this clip:
Ibrahimovic, of course, has his own view on events and revealed how the situation unfolded following that moment. Writing in his autobiography 'I Am Zlatan', the striker says Van der Vaart was so annoyed by the situation that head coach Koeman had to hold crisis talks between them.
He wrote: "He claimed in the papers that I’d injured him on purpose. What kind of **** was that? There wasn’t even a free-kick awarded! That guy was supposed to be my team captain! I phoned Van der Vaart: ‘Listen up, I’m sorry, it’s a shame about your injury, but it wasn’t intentional. You got that?’
"He didn’t back down even a millimetre. When we returned to Ajax, the atmosphere became more and more heated. Finally, Ronald Koeman, the coach, called us into a meeting. By that time I was completely obsessed.
"We all sat in a circle in our lunch room, and I immediately sensed the seriousness of the situation. You could feel it in the air.
"‘Zlatan did it on purpose,’ said Van der Vaart, and I saw red. ‘I didn’t injure you on purpose, and you know that. If you accuse me again I’ll break both your legs, and that time it will be on purpose,’ I said."
Becoming Zlatan will be available on DVD and download from August 15.
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