Zlatan Ibrahimovic never changes. The former Swedish striker spoke during La Gazzetta della Sport's 'Festival della Sport' and, as he always does, delivered entertaining soundbite after soundbite living up to his status as an icon on and also off the pitch. Ibrahimovic, who retired last summer, was also asked by Italian journalist Luigi Garlando during their long conversation about the impact of Lionel Messi on the American soccer fans after he joined Inter Miami last summer. Ibrahimovic didn't disappoint.
"I'm happy for them. They can watch soccer again. When I left, they started watching baseball".
This quote also refers to when Ibrahimovic left LA Galaxy before joining AC Milan in December 2019. When he left MLS, the striker wrote on his social media channels: "I came, I saw, I conquered. Thank you LA Galaxy for making me feel alive again. To the Galaxy fans - you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues...Now go back to watch baseball".
Ibrahimovic also discussed his spell at FC Barcelona, and his challenges with Pep Guardiola: "Going to Barcelona was a dream. Everyone was talking about Barcelona. I thought that if I could play there, I'd be in the best team in the world. When Barcelona called me, I was excited. I had given my best at Inter.
"I wanted to grow even more and face other challenges to understand and test myself, it was a challenge with myself. Playing in one place your whole life is fine, but I wanted to see how far I could go. In the first six months at Barcelona, well, well... in the last six months, my way of thinking changed. I didn't do much on the field, but in my mind, I became stronger. You have to go through tough times to become stronger. If it's always 'wow,' then when the blow comes, you're not ready to get out of the difficult moment".
Ibra also had a little debate about Mario Balotelli, as the two played together at Inter: "It's sad when a young footballer has all the potential in the world, but doesn't seize his opportunities. He had countless chances to fulfill his potential, but unfortunately, he didn't."
The Italian striker answered on Instagram by posting a picture of him lifting the UEFA Champions League with Inter in 2010, a few months after Ibrahimovic left the Nerazzurri to join FC Barcelona. Ibrahimovic, despite being one of the winningest players in the world during his caraeer, never lifted that trophy. Balotelli added, referring to a Champions League game that Inter lost during the 2008-09 season,
"In Manchester you were scared and I wanted to win (on the pitch). The following year we won the Champions League anyway, but Zlatan I still love you".