Zlatan on Sweden being his breakfast and Muhammad Ali

Joe Williams

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic says the underachievements of other Swedish athletes has driven him on in his quest to be the best.

Ibrahimovic has had a sparkling career in football, winning league titles with six different clubs including Inter Milan, AC Milan and Barcelona, scoring over 300 goals in the process.

The 35-year-old bagged 62 goals for Sweden before his retirement at the end of Euro 2016 but the striker admits that scoring for his national team was his bread and butter.

“I was aiming to make history,” Ibrahimovic told A-Z Sportswear. “I wanted to make a difference in a way that people would discuss it long after I quit what I’m doing. That was my target.

“I didn’t want to do like the other ones. I wasn’t happy with what I saw. I come from Sweden, and for what the Swedish athletes achieved, I wasn’t happy with that.

“I saw the world. I wanted to be part of those things, where the world sees me, not only Sweden.

“That was too small for me. I had a bigger objective than Sweden. Sweden was my breakfast.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic never got to meet Muhammad Ali, who died in June, but he has revealed that the former boxer was a huge source of “inspiration” for him.

“I looked at different kind of personalities. That is what drove my motivation, my adrenaline,” he said.

“I liked Muhammad Ali. The way he was, the way he performed, the way he was talking, the way he was moving, the way he responded to the critics, to whoever talked.

“That was my inspiration. It’s exactly how it should be. I was training hard for it, every day, and I’m here now.”