The Swedish superstar on taekwondo, keeping the fridge stocked at all times and that goal...
It’s been nearly six months since the man they call Ibra destroyed England in Stockholm, scoring one of football’s greatest goals along the way. Since then he’s helped propel Paris Saint-Germain to the top of Ligue 1, and now – with David Beckham at his side – faces Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League quarters, for which he is currently preparing for.
You’re the master of scissor-kicks. What’s the best way to practise them?
You have to believe that the goals can be scored and not worry about if they will work every time. Some of the goals I have scored have been called unbelievable but maybe it is because many players are not brave enough to try them during a big game. Then, of course, you have to practise – just like with anything you want to be exceptional at. The coaches never tell me off for trying spectacular things as they know what I am capable of.
You’re also skilled at taekwondo – is that an alternative career?
It is a sport that requires control and is also a great way of releasing aggression. I am a black belt and I am often asked if I will be a judge at the biggest tournaments in the world. When I retire it is something I would love to do.
You go at it pretty hard in training…
I am not that aggressive, despite what people think. I really care about football, and wherever I have been I have wanted to win trophies. Sometimes when you care about something so much emotions can get high but I am a nice guy and I get annoyed when people don’t care as much as me.
What’s the worst injury you’ve had?
When I was at Inter I had a knee injury that kept me out for two months. It was near the end of the season – we were trying to win the title. I came on at half-time against Parma and scored two goals in a 2-0 win and Inter won the title. You decide your own destiny.
Is the PSG dietary team strict about what you eat?
Like any top club we have nutritionists and follow a healthy diet, but it’s not like they check our refrigerators. When I was growing up we were so poor that our refrigerator was always empty, so now it is a rule in our house to always have it full. I am not ready to retire for a long time, so I want to look after myself.
Do you have a cheat food?
I played in Italy for a long time and I fell in love with the food. When Italian food is cooked as it should be it is the best in the world. When I go out for dinner with my family it is normally Italian, but there are so many calories in it that I don’t make it often.
What’s on your iPod when you train?
One of my favourite types of music is reggae. There is such intensity to what we do that it keeps me calm. I am a big fan of Bob Marley.
What’s the worst thing about training?
Whenever I don’t have the ball at my feet. I was born to play football and always want to be doing these things that I am able to do with the ball.
And the best thing?
I score some great goals in training. The fourth goal I scored against England had people saying it was the greatest goal ever, but the truth is it is not even the greatest goal that I have ever scored. If you see some of the goals I have scored in training and some of the things I have done you would not believe it.
Zlatan’s killer tip
Play one-touch football games. No matter what pace the ball comes at you or what pressure you are under you can’t take more than one touch. If you play once a week you will see how much better your game, technique and touch is when it comes to playing for real. You will be like a different player.