Ranked! Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 10 greatest ever goals
5. Sweden vs France (2012)
“How can I blame any of my players for that?” asked France manager Laurent Blanc post-match. “That’s not even a chance to any other player.”
France had begun the day top of Group D, but in the knowledge that anything less than victory could send them home from Euro 2012. Sweden were playing merely for pride. But with the scoreboard reading 54 minutes and 0-0, Ibrahimovic, from just inside the penalty area and with both feet in the air, scissor-kicked a Sebastian Larsson cross into the bottom corner of Hugo Lloris’s net.
The eventual 2-0 result handed Blanc’s side their first loss it 24 outings – a run during which they had beaten England at Wembley, Brazil at the Stade de France and Germany at the Weserstadion – and gave Sweden a first victory over France in 43 years.
Fortunately for Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema & Co, Wayne Rooney saved their blushes by scoring against Ukraine to ensure France and England progressed. And fortunately for Blanc, all the world wanted to ask him about afterwards was the latest addition to Ibrahimovic’s highlight reel, a strike which was ultimately voted the goal of the tournament.
4. Inter vs Bologna (2008)
“No normal human would have even thought of trying to score from there,” remarked Inter right-back Maicon, himself no stranger to wonder goals. Adriano had fizzed in a left-wing cross, but the ball was behind Ibrahimovic. Nevertheless, the Inter No.8, turned his back to goal and – employing taekwondo-indebted flexibility to get his right boot to shoulder height – flicked the ball into a seemingly non-existent gap at the near post to break the deadlock.
Bologna goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli didn’t even move. Nor did Ibra’s torso once the net had rippled. He simply outstretched his arms as if to say: ‘Nobody else could have done that.’ We're unlikely to argue.
3. Sweden vs England (2012)
"Sometimes you feel you're looking at a computer game where you can do all these incredible things," reflected Sweden coach Erik Hamren. "Because it’s not possible to do that."
The foresight to realise Joe Hart wasn’t going to be able to head the ball too far clear; the imagination to even think of attempting to score from a bicycle kick; the daring to actually try it; the execution to lob it over Hart, Gary Cahill and Ryan Shawcross into a tiny gap. Simply, the Swedish superhero’s effort was preposterous.
“That’s the best goal I’ve seen live,” said England midfielder Steven Gerrard of the acrobatic effort that eventually won Ibrahimovic the FIFA Puskas Award.
2. Toronto vs LA Galaxy (2018)
How many players in the world would have scored the goal Ibra did this month? Zlatan may liken himself to a lion, but he has the flexibility of an electric eel and his spinning wheel kick had the precision of a perfect MMA strike.
“I don’t know if I have to [call you] the lion, the cat, the dog,” said an awestruck Paul Pogba in a video message to his former Manchester United team-mate. “No, Zlatan, respect, respect. I tell you to play football and you watch too much Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Bruce Lee.”
LA Galaxy were 3-0 down when Ibrahimovic reduced the deficit with his 500th career goal, and his side pulled it to 3-3, before eventually going down 5-3. "It's not the first time I've gotten a standing ovation [as an away player],” said the 36-year-old. “Obviously it's not good to lose, but I'm happy for Toronto because they'll be remembered as my 500th victim."
1. Ajax vs NAC Breda (2004)
“Maradona! Zidane!” exclaimed the Dutch commentator after Ibrahimovic rounded off a move in which he evaded seven challenges (a pair of adversaries had two bites at the cherry), and left three Breda players on their backsides, before slotting the ball into an empty net.
“I received the ball with a defender on my back,” the Swede later explained to FourFourTwo. “Another tried to challenge me, but I kept the ball from both. Then I turned and saw the goal. I was going towards the goal dribbling past players – ‘bam, bam, bam’ – as I searched for a moment to shoot. It didn't come, so I kept on going past different players. Then I was past the goalkeeper.
But I decided to go backwards to get a better angle to score. I went past the same player again. I used to play with him, but I didn't realise it! He said to me, ‘Zlatan, I thought we were friends.’ I apologised because I didn't realise it was a former team-mate. It was my best goal.”