Ibrahimovic unveils larger than life statue in hometown

Zlatan Ibrahimovic poses next to a 2.7 m bronze statue of himself, after the unveiling ceremony near the stadium where he made his professional debut in his hometown of Malmo, in southern Sweden. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2019

Ibrahimovic unveils larger than life statue in hometown

  • Ibrahimovic, whose parents emigrated from the former Yugoslavia, grew up in difficult conditions in Rosengard, a neighborhood in Malmo known for violent clashes between rival gangs
  • Ibrahimovic played for Malmo, then Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United before moving to the LA Galaxy

MALMÖ, Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimovic unveiled a bronze statue of himself on Tuesday near the stadium where he launched his professional career in his hometown of Malmo.
“No matter where you come from, where you are, no matter what you look like, the statue is the symbol that anything is possible,” said Sweden’s best-known footballer, visibly moved to see himself permanently represented “where it all began.”
Ibrahimovic, who had a stint with Paris Saint-Germain, already has an effigy at the Grevin wax museum in the French capital.
He had been waiting for his statue in Sweden for five years. The work, created by Swedish sculptor Peter Linde, is impressive. Ibrahimovic stands 1.95m (6ft 5in) tall. The sculpture is 2.7 meters high and weighs 500kg.
Ibrahimovic, whose parents emigrated from the former Yugoslavia, grew up in difficult conditions in Rosengard, a neighborhood in Malmo known for violent clashes between rival gangs.
He played for Malmo, then Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United before moving to the LA Galaxy. He developed a reputation as a player who won league titles, collecting 13 in 16 seasons in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France, although one, with Juventus, has since been rescinded.
His Galaxy team have made the MLS playoffs and face Minnesota in the first round on October 20.
Ibrahimovic dominated the Swedish national team from 2001 to 2016, winning 116 caps and scoring 62 goals.
He remains an icon in his hometown.
“He is one of us. He comes from Rosengard and has become the king of football,” said Jaafar, who grew up in the area and came up to approach his idol.
Ibrahimovic, who is famous for his bombastic, possibly tongue in cheek, declarations, said before leaving PSG that he would stay if the club owners could persuade the city to “change the Eiffel Tower for my statue.”
“A World Cup without me is nothing to watch, so it is not worth waiting for the World Cup,” he said when Sweden failed to qualify for the 2014 finals.


South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

Updated 14 October 2019

South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

BEIJING: South Korean footballers departed for Pyongyang on Monday to play a World Cup qualifier against North Korea amid deadlocked talks over the North’s nuclear arsenal.
The teams — with Tottenham’s star forward Son Heung-min included in the South Korean squad — are expected to face each other at the Kim Il Sung Stadium on Tuesday.
This will be the first competitive men’s game between the two sides to be held in Pyongyang, and has raised hopes for new momentum in ties between the two Koreas.
But Pyongyang refused to hold direct talks with Seoul on the logistics for the match, denying South Korean fans and journalists permission to travel with the team.
South Korean players said the absence of cheering fans will be a first.
“It’s much better to play in a packed stadium rather than an empty one, but I think we’ll be able to play a good match if we use it as motivation,” said defender Kim Min-jae before boarding a flight to Pyongyang at Beijing airport.
The South Korean footballers were accompanied by a delegation of 55 people, limited to players, coaches and staff.
Broadcasters in the South said that plans to air the match live had fallen apart, with some media reporting that there may be attempts to carry the North Korean feed.
The match comes in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests that raised tensions in the region, and after the breakdown of talks with the United States over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.