It’s a well-known fact within football that Zlatan Ibrahimovic loves his martial arts.
And the 38-year-old has won trophies wherever he’s gone, with his incredible scoring feats for club and country no doubt feeding one of the biggest egos in the game.
But that self-belief means that Zlatan has to win everything that Zlatan takes part in, whether that’s in football or another discipline.
Despite Ibrahimovic being a black belt in taekwondo, his Milan teammate during his first spell with the Serie A club, Gennaro Gattuso, thought he would take him on during training.
Gattuso was renowned for being a fiery character himself through his aggressive playing style and confrontations with players and coaching staff alike, including that famous spat and resulting headbutting of Joe Jordan during Milan’s Champions League clash against Tottenham.
Milan legend Andrea Pirlo also revealed in his autobiography that the Italian enforcer used to stab his teammates with cutlery…
Nonetheless, Zlatan doesn’t back down to anyone, and during an interview with Marca, another former Milan teammate, Robinho, described the clash between the two on the training ground, per the Daily Record.
“One day in training he challenged Gattuso to a jiu-jitsu fight.
“Right before your eyes you had this fierce guy doing martial arts against Zlatan – who is a black belt.
“Who won? Zlatan always wins…”
It seems like even Gattuso met his match that day then.
Ibrahimovic also claimed to have been influential in Milan signing Robinho in the first place.
“Zlatan often said that he had convinced Milan to sign me.
“He’d say: ‘you’re here because of me’.
“Is he arrogant? Yes, but in a good way. He has confidence in his talent.
“For me, he is everything a striker should be: a showman and a winner.”
Zlatan’s ego and skill on the football pitch were never in doubt, but he can now back up his martial arts claims as well. Not that he even needed that reassurance himself…
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