Ranked! Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 10 greatest ever goals
10. Barcelona vs Zaragoza (2009)
“It almost snapped the keeper’s hands off,” said Barça boss Pep Guardiola of Ibrahimovic’s thunderous 30-yard free-kick, which blasted through Juan Pablo Carizzo’s grasp. “You should see Ibra’s free-kicks in training. When he’s shooting, our keepers tremble with fear." One of them, Victor Valdes, defended his Zaragoza counterpart: “No goalkeeper would have kept that out. The power he gets on shots is frightening.”
Jermaine Pennant, who played for Zaragoza in that 6-1 defeat, said afterwards of Ibrahimovic: “He’s absolutely on fire. He’s scoring for fun, he’s linking up perfectly with Messi and Iniesta and Xavi. Barcelona were already the best team in the world. Now, with Ibrahimovic, it’s frightening to think what they’re capable of.”
Things ultimately didn’t work out for Mr Charisma at the Camp Nou, but Barça fans fondly remember that ferocious free-kick, as well as the volley with which he settled El Clasico the following month.
9. Lecce vs Milan (2011)
“Zlatan had no right to win the ball,” marvelled Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri. Mathieu Flamini had punted the ball upfield to relieve the pressure on AC Milan. Lecce pair Gustavo and Giuseppe Vives had a significant head start on Ibrahimovic, who combined underestimated speed and incomparable strength to make it his own.
Affording himself a split-second for a glance goalwards, the Milan No.11 noticed goalkeeper Antonio Rosati was marginally off his line. That’s all he needed. A majestic lob from 30 yards followed.
“Rosati wasn’t really off his line,” said Allegri. “But the slightest of misjudgements and Zlatan will punish you. He’s a unique player.” Please note the Italian commentator getting just a touch excited.
8. Inter vs Fiorentina (2009)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was irked when a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Manchester United ended his and Inter Milan’s Champions League dream in March 2009. Four days later, the fearsome forward took his fury out on a Nike T90 Omni ball – and on Fiorentina. Ibra’s 11th-hour free-kick from 35 yards out rocketed home, past goalkeeper Sebastien Frey and off the underside of the crossbar, at 109 km/h.
“I didn’t know what had happened until I got home and saw the replay,” said Viola left-back Juan Vargas. “I was there [on the pitch], but it was too quick to see.”
7. Italy vs Sweden (2004)
“Zlatan has had a career full of exceptional goals,” assessed iconic Italian keeper Gigi Buffon. “But that was probably the first quite important one and it was really beautiful. He did something exceptional and they celebrated a lot, because they went into the next round at our expense.”
Buffon had seemed certain to grasp the bouncing ball, just inside his six-yard box, until Ibrahimovic flung his 6ft 5ins frame through the air and, somehow, got to it ahead of the goalkeeper in their Group C clash at Euro 2004. With his back to goal and both feet off the ground, Sweden’s No.10 produced a breathtaking flick that lobbed the ball over Buffon and Christian Vieri, who leapt in vain on the line, to snatch a 1-1 draw.
6. Anderlecht vs PSG (2013)
“Even the best of the best, the majority of them would have put that in row Z,” said PSG left-back Maxwell of the third of four Ibrahimovic goals in a 5-0 crushing of Anderlecht in the 2013/14 Champions League. Ibra ran on to an awkwardly bouncing ball, struck it first time with immense ferocity, and watched it fly into the top corner of Thomas Kaminski’s net.
“After my third goal, the whole stadium stood up and was clapping,” remembered Ibrahimovic. “I was a little taken [aback] by the moment. It was a special feeling.”