Happy birthday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
While the enigmatic Swede might not have a Champions League title or Ballon d’Or trophy to his name, there’s no denying that his impact on the modern game has been bigger than most.
Zlatan’s endless confidence
And one can’t help feeling that Ibrahimovic’s remarkable confidence, which sees him refer to himself as everything from a god to a lion, has played a key role in that lethality in front of goal.
Besides, regardless of whether you cringe at Ibrahimovic’s declarations that he’s the best thing since sliced bread or not, there’s no denying that he backs his chat with an avalanche of goals.
And although Ibrahimovic is showing no signs of stopping despite now having 40 candles on his birthday cake, the AC Milan forward has seen the retirement process happen many times first hand.
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Beckham’s final game
Perhaps the most famous example of this came in 2013 when Ibrahimovic happened to be sharing the pitch with David Beckham when he made his final appearance in the professional game.
Beckham skippered Paris Saint-Germain during a 3-1 win over Brest at the Parc des Princes, which culminated in an emotional standing ovation on 80 minutes as well as lifting the Ligue 1 trophy.
Fittingly, ‘Golden Balls’ managed to notch an assist for Blaise Matuidi in the early exchanges and looked to have the perfect opportunity to end his career with a glorious free-kick later in the half.
Zlatan upstages Beckham
Surely, just two days after Beckham had announced that he was retiring from the professional game, every man and his dog would have stepped aside when PSG won a 25-yard free-kick, right?
Well… try telling that to Ibrahimovic because it was actually the Swede who proceeded to take the set-piece with Beckham stood alongside him. To be fair, though, it wasn’t a bad call.
And we say that because Ibrahimovic duly launched a pile-driver of a strike into the net with Beckham jubilantly celebrating with his teammate right away. Check out the moment down below:
If you’re going to take a free-kick over Beckham in their final ever game, then you better score and fair play to Ibrahimovic for doing exactly that.
Fair play, Zlatan, fair play
While, yes, the Brest goalkeeper probably should have done a lot better, there was some serious venom behind the strike and more than a few wrists would have collapsed trying to stop it.
Ligue 1 themselves were clearly impressed, too, because they proceeded to vote Ibrahimovic’s strike as his third-best free-kick in the competition when they compiled a top five in 2014.
If anybody would have both the guts and skill to upstage Beckham at the skill he was arguably the greatest of all time with during his final ever appearance in world football then it’s Zlatan.