Zlatan’s skill helps England

Technical, inventive and with overwhelming flair it is not easy to see why English media have long denounced Zlatan Ibrahimovic as overrated and ‘just another Berbatov’ (which curiously could only be an insult on these shores), as his understanding of the game and technical prowess is ignored instead to ask questions regarding the prioritised English traits of passion and desire. ‘He doesn’t work hard enough to get it back’, the less imaginative ‘he’s lazy’, or that he ‘never comes up with the goods when it matters’ being common accusations that undermine his ability. Whilst the latter is often a pundit’s way of saying they haven’t seen him play outside of a Champions League match against an English team, the points still stick and have stuck in this country, and causes us to uniquely puzzle over why he is so highly regarded.

Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic volley against France means that England avoid Spain in the quarter finals and instead face Italy, the lesser of two evils and a side that although better than England, are not as crushingly overbearing as the Spanish. Yet criticism of the player has come mostly in England where his justified preserving of energy when his team don’t have the ball, perfectly reasonable for a striker, is viewed as laziness or a lack of work ethic, seemingly erasing his sharp technique and skill on the ball.

Yet the striker‘s records are mind blowing. Serie A foreign player of the year four times, Serie A player of the year three times, Serie A top scorer two times and Swedish player of the year for six of the past seven years is just a portion of his trophy room. Furthermore, the seldom cited fact that Ibrahimovic won eight consecutive league titles between 2004 and 2011 with five different teams represents a remarkable feat.  His impact though extends beyond recordable statistics; his unique combination of skill, flair and creativity married with speed, strength and power (evidenced against England when happily bouncing Lescott and Terry off him) make him a truly rare footballer that at his best is altogether unstoppable.

Despite Ibrahimovic’s skilful goal benefitting England by ensuring we favourably avoid Spain, it probably won’t be enough to ensure he is viewed in this country as one of the world’s most exciting players. Unfortunately, this probably says more about English attitudes to football than it does about this footballing genius.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: