How the 'Zlatan Ibrahimovic' character came to overshadow the player's incredible talent

Roughly speaking, there are two chapters in the Zlatan Ibrahimovic story. It doesn’t quite comprise a before-and-after, but there was certainly a time when Ibrahimovic was less than what he is now – more of footballer, less of a marketing embellishment.

In fact, it’s strange to think back to a time when Ibrahimovic was considered enigmatic. His career predates the YouTube age. It also began and matured before the current television era, making him – generally speaking – Serie A’s privilege alone.

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Seb Stafford-Bloor is a football writer at Tifo Football and member of the Football Writers' Association. He was formerly a regularly columnist for the FourFourTwo website, covering all aspects of the game, including tactical analysis, reaction pieces, longer-term trends and critiquing the increasingly shady business of football's financial side and authorities' decision-making.