Immigrant family, watch out for your own kind of neighbourhood, divorced parents, a drunk father, a poor Mom working to make ends meet, a drug abusive half-sister, and a dramatic family to say things like ‘I never want to see you again’ – A perfect Bollywood movie plot, isn’t it? That was the life of Zlatan Ibrahimovic!

What is fear? I have always believed there is no fear that leaves a bigger imprint on one’s life than the ones we live (not perceive but Live!) in our childhood in – A dark tunnel where his dad was mugged and beaten always surfaced in his memories and he would run between the lamp posts on either side of the tunnel thinking, “If I just run fast enough, it’ll all be all right”. Below is my interpretation of the book –

  • Ali, what a legend! He did things in his own way, no matter what people said. I imitated some of his things, like, I am the greatest! My thing was that I had to both talk the talk and walk the walk. Not just saying I’m great but being great with some swagger!
  • What would I have done if I hadn’t become a footballer? Maybe a criminal. There was a lot of crime those days. I’ve done a lot of things from nicking bikes to shoplifting. But no drugs! I didn’t just pour out dad’s beer but also chucked out mom’s cigarettes.
  • I saw the guys from the council estates on the edge of the city like mine who would try to pretend to be posh. It never worked. I thought I’ll do the opposite, I’ll do my own thing that much more
  • I was a bit rowdy. Sure, maybe I wasn’t an angel. But a special teacher just for me? You can’t single out kids like that. While playing, I lined up a world class shot and hit her square in the head
  • There’s one game on the pitch. There’s another one in the transfer market, and I like them both, and I know quite a few tricks. I’ve learnt the hard way
  • No farewell in front of 30k people at Malmo FF, they just called me to Hasse’s office and gave me a crystal ball momento to thank for the 85 million (his first transfer fees). What were they thinking? I’ll take it back to Amsterdam and weep when I looked at it? I kept it on the table and left. That feeling was not just joy. It was revenge! Revenge is my fuel & I work that much harder to prove myself
  • I tried doing the feint with one foot, a cool thing Ronaldo did a lot, which was one of the moves I’d watched on the computer when I was a junior and had practiced for hours for hours and hours until I could do it in my sleep and didn’t even need to think in order to pull it out of the bag –This is the power of dedicated training & practice!
  • A football season is long, and you can’t put everything on show in a single match. As soon as I arrived I wanted to do my whole repertoire all at once, and that’s why I got stuck, I think – As people say, life is a marathon, not a 100 metre sprint!
  • That’s how I function. If nothing’s going on with football, I’ve got to get my kicks somewhere else
  • After being made a fool during the first record transfer to Ajax – I’m in complete control. I refuse to be cheated and taken advantage of again, and I always try to be one step ahead in negotiations. I take back from all my matches and training sessions, watching others too. Learn all the time!
  • Van Basten (One of the footballing greats) said, “Don’t listen to the coaches. Don’t waste your energy defending. You’ve got to use your strength in attacking. You’ll serve your team best by attacking and scoring goals, not by wearing yourself out defending” – It is a critical management lesson on trying to focus on your team’s strength rather than asking everyone to do everything
  • I said stars in Italy don’t jump just because the coach says so. That doesn’t apply with (Fabio) Capello. Every single player ties to the line when he shows up. “You don’t get respect. You take it”
  • It was all the ‘wow! And check that out’ that got me going. Under Capello I transformed from an artiste to a bruiser who wanted to win at any price. Nobody’s going to thank you for your artistry and your back heels if your team loses. Nobody cares if you’ve scored a dream goal if you don’t win – This one just steals it J
  • The Ferrari Enzo (only 399 of it were ever produced) and Zlatan got the same at Juventus. The Enzo gives me a feeling that I’ve to work harder in order to deserve it. It prevents me becoming complacent, and I can look at it and think: if I don’t make the grade, it’ll be taken away from me. That car became a driving force, a trigger – In my opinion, it is OK to have materialistic goals to use purely as a driving force to make yourself a better version of yourself
  • His tattoos (just try and imagine this personality… I’m impressed J) –
    1. ‘Only god can judge me’
    2. a dragon – as a symbol of warrior
    3. a carp – a fish that swims against the current
    4. a Buddha – symbol to protect against suffering
    5. five elements : water, earth, fire, air and wood
    6. family (men on the right for strength and women closer to heart on the left)
  • I have dirty looks in training sessions. I had my winner’s mind-set, all that wild attitude and willpower. I was worse than ever. I went mental if people didn’t give a 100% on the pitch. You can’t train soft and play aggressive. Training sessions are just as important as the matches
  • I’d seen it clearly in football, both at Juventus and at Ajax: every team performs better when the players are united. At inter Milan it was the opposite. The Brazilians sat in one corner, the Argentinians in another, and then the rest of us in the middle. Some might say what does it matter who we eat lunch with? Believe me, it matters. If you don’t stick together off the pitch, it shows in your game
  • On the red feature wall in the foyer (in his house), I hung a big picture of two dirty feet. My mates asked how can you have this shit on your wall? ‘You idiots, those feet have paid for all this’
  • A footballer at my level is a bit like orange. The club squeezes it until there’s no juice left, and then it’s time to sell the guy on. It’s part of the game. That’s the game. They build you up. They knock you down. I was used to it! – The same stands true for your corporate journey as well. Be cognizant of this always!
  • I knew all about Ronaldo. I studied his feints and acceleration. A lot of us did, like I said. But nobody took it as far as I did. I didn’t miss a single detail.
  • Now though he’d won the league trophy, and the players went up, one by one, kind of formal, shook his hands and said, ‘Thank you so much, you did it for us’. Then Mancini came up to me, completely filled with victory and congratulations. The only thing was, he didn’t get a thank you from me. I said, ‘you’re welcome’ – Classis Zlatan!
  • On Mourinho – he created personal ties with the players with his text messages and his emails and his involvement and his knowledge of all our situations with wives and children, and he didn’t shout. This guy does his homework. He works hard to get us ready. He built us up before matches. It was like theatre, a psychological game
  • On Sir Alex Ferguson – no player was bigger than the club. He’s like god in England. He never wears out his stars, he rotates them
  • On Pep Guardiola – it was no accident that he’d had problems with guys like Ronaldinho, Deco, Eto’o, Henry and me. We’re no ‘ordinary guys’. Maybe it’s something as simple as losing his authority. Pep said to him “here at barca, we keep our feet on the ground, no one drives to training in flashy Ferrari’s or Porsche’s”. Messi, Xavi and iniesta stood like school boys. I didn’t fit in

This one is for all those who fill themselves with an aspiration to grow but do not think they have the adequate resources given on a platter. For anyone who is confident on hardwork, this one shows the way on ‘How?’!

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