Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named Sweden’s top player for a 10th successive year and will have a statue erected in his honour outside the stadium where he embarrassed England.
The Manchester United forward received his ‘Guldbollen’ – Golden Ball – award at a ceremony in Stockholm, extending a run of successes that began in 2007.
Ibrahimovic, who also won the award in 2005 before losing out to Fredrik Ljungberg a year later, left Paris St Germain for Manchester United in the summer and has experienced mixed fortunes at his new home.
But in Sweden he continues to reign, despite bringing his international career to an end after Euro 2016. A bronze likeness of the 36-year-old, being created by artist Peter Linde, will soon stand outside the Friends Arena stadium in Stockholm, where Ibrahimovic scored a stunning overhead kick to cap a four-goal haul against England in November 2012.
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Ibrahimovic said: “After all the hard work for 15 years in the national team, and 20 in my club career, it feels like it is appreciated. The guy from Rosengard will get his own statue in the capital. A big thank you to everyone.
“It’s huge for me. Most people do not get a statue until they have passed away.”
Ibrahimovic ended his international career with 62 goals in 116 games.
Swedish Football Association president Karl-Erik Nilsson said: “The statue is a way for us to thank Ibrahimovic for his amazing efforts for Swedish football, but it is also a symbol for everyone to always be reminded and inspired by all he has done. I also hope that the statue to a certain extent can be the basis of a feeling that everything is possible, both in football, but also for life itself. It’s very nice, I think.”
Hakan Sjostrand, the Swedish FA general secretary, said on the association’s website: “I think we generally don’t pay enough attention to our athletes in Sweden. Look abroad. There is a statue of a footballer outside every stadium in England, for example.”