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Zlatan Gives All-Time Great Response To His Upcoming Statue Outside Sweden's Stadium

Zlatan Gives All-Time Great Response To His Upcoming Statue Outside Sweden's Stadium
By Gavan Casey Updated

For the 11th time, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has won Aftonbladet's 'Golden Ball' in his native Sweden.

The country's leading sports publication hosts their national football awards each year, and Ibrahimovic has perhaps unsurprisingly dominated for over a decade, having captained his country to European Championships in both 2012 and 2016. The Manchester United striker has won the award in 11 of the past 12 seasons, with only Freddie Ljungberg interrupting his reign of dominance in 2006.

Last night, however, his 11th Golden Ball came with an added gesture; a statue of the 35-year-old striker will be erected outside Sweden's national stadium, the Friends Arena, in Stockholm, following his retirement from the national team.

His initial response at the Aftonbladet gala was somewhat atypically humble, as he told reporters:

It feels completely unreal. Many now think "why him?" and so on. But after all the hard work I have put in - 15 years in the national team and 20 years old with my own club career - it feels like it is deserved.

The guy from Rosengård gets his own statue in the capital of Sweden. You usually get it when you pass away, but I still feel alive. The day I pass away I will live on forever. So thanks.

Then the other Zlatan came out, much to the laughter of reporters and fans in attendance:

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I'm only missing a royal castle now. That will be next year.

But he wasn't finished there. Sculptor Peter Linde, who designed and built the statue, wanted Ibrahimovic to be depicted stark-bollocko naked, but the Manchester United striker was having none of it:

We have gone against each other many times. He is an artist, I'm an artist. But with me it is all about... I do not want the whole world to see me naked. There is only one person who can see me naked. But it's good. It's big, it's powerful.

He left it ambiguous if the 'it' in question was the statue itself or one of his own anatomical features.

When Aftonbladet ran a poll asking Swedish sports fans whether or not their footballing icon deserved a statue outside the national stadium, over 65% voted yes. He scored 62 goals in 116 caps before his international retirement after the Euros.

[Aftonbladet]

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