Zlatan Ibrahimovic traveled back to his native Sweden this week to take part in the unveiling of a new statue of his likeness on Tuesday, a 500-kilo (1,100 lbs.) tribute placed outside of Friends Arena in Malmo, where his professional career began some 20 years ago.
Malmö honored one of its hometown celebrities this afternoon by unveiling a bronze statue of football great Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The sculpture stands just outside of the stadium of Malmö FF, the club where Zlatan's career began back in 1996.— Radio Sweden (@radiosweden) October 8, 2019
TT Photo: Johan Nilsson pic.twitter.com/9IWYhD2f0v
“You have players who win trophies. You have players who get statues. Then you have players who receive both trophies and statues,” said Ibrahimovic, a child of Balkan immigrants who expressed his hope that the statue can inspire future generations.
“[It’s] a symbol for those who do not feel welcome, do not fit in or feel that they do not look like everyone else,” said the LA Galaxy star, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Oct. 3. “If I can, they can. I'm not special in any way, even though I'm best at what I do.”
Widely rated as the best Swedish player in history, Ibra has won more than 20 league and cup titles and innumerable individual awards over his illustrious career, and the statue – designed by artist Peter Linde – is characteristically larger than life, standing more than 11 feet tall.
Zlatan has racked up 52 goals and 17 assists in 56 MLS games to date, and will lead the Galaxy into the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs starting with a Round One visit to Minnesota United on Oct. 20 (8:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS in Canada).