I Am Zlatan: My Story On and Off the Field, by Zlatan Ibrahimović, Ruth Urbom (Translator), David Lagercrantz
Published June 3rd 2014 by Random House Trade Paperbacks
Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker with Paris Saint-Germain and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.
Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.
Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.
My husband is an insane soccer fan-to clarify he’s an insane Barcelona fan. As a result I watch a fair amount of footie at home. I became familiar with Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he played for Barcelona a few years ago. He is compelling to watch on the field and his quotes to the media can be pretty outrageous. In homage to the 2014 World Cup I thought I’d read Zlatan’s story.
This book read very quickly, almost like a magazine article. No deep truths are uncovered, but there are some good stories. Zlatan is honest about his unconventional upbringing as an immigrant in a rough neighborhood in Sweden. He admits he had some wild experiences and could have ended up with a different life. But he also comes across as thankful first for his family and then for the beautiful game that he’s able to excel at.
The guy clearly has an ego, and I understand that as an elite athlete you’re allowed that to a point. This might be my favorite Zlatan story from after he became engaged for the first time. A reporter asks “What did she get for an engagement present?”
“Whaddaya mean, present? She got Zlatan.”
She got Zlatan? Amazing. Zlatan is just such a fun name to say. I’d throw out lines like that too if I were him.
It was interesting for me to realize that its not just young American sports stars that are so underprepared for the contracts they sign and the salaries they earn. I really appreciated Zlatan’s openness about how he had been hurt by the coach and mentor that he considered a second father and about how he never took things so lightly again.
This book definitely left me wanting to head to youtube to watch some of the plays Zlatan describes! Read this to go along with the World Cup!
Thank you Random House and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition