Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is known for his class on the pitch and his over-the-top personality off it.
The Sweden striker’s autobiography, I am Zlatan, is full of anecdotes about how he went toe to toe with coaches and players in his illustrious career so far.
One such player was the former Tottenham and Holland midfielder Rafa van der Vaart.
The pair were once team-mates under Ronald Koeman at Ajax, but they were anything but friends outside of football.
In his outstanding book, Ibrahimovic remembers a time in 2004 when he injured Van der Vaart in an international friendly, something the Dutchman believed his club-mate did deliberately. Zlatan wasn’t taking that lying down.
Here’s what he had to say about it:
“In 2004, I was playing for Sweden against Holland, whose team included many of my Ajax club colleagues. It was a friendly but the entire Sweden squad was out for revenge for our loss in the Euro 2004 tournament. We wanted to prove we could beat Holland.
“Early on in the match I got a ball outside the penalty area and immediately had four Dutchmen on me. One of them was my team-mate, Rafael van der Vaart, who went on to play for Tottenham. I powered my way through the challenges, and Van der Vaart was left lying in pain on the pitch.
“He was taken off on a stretcher with a torn ankle ligament. Nothing serious, but he might miss a match or two.
“He claimed in the papers that I’d injured him on purpose. What kind of **** was that? There wasn’t even a free-kick awarded! That guy was supposed to be my team captain! I phoned Van der Vaart: ‘Listen up, I’m sorry, it’s a shame about your injury, but it wasn’t intentional. You got that?’
“He didn’t back down even a millimetre. When we returned to Ajax, the atmosphere became more and more heated. Finally, Ronald Koeman, the coach, called us into a meeting. By that time I was completely obsessed.
“We all sat in a circle in our lunch room, and I immediately sensed the seriousness of the situation. You could feel it in the air.
“‘Zlatan did it on purpose,’ said Van der Vaart, and I saw red. ‘I didn’t injure you on purpose, and you know that. If you accuse me again I’ll break both your legs, and that time it will be on purpose,’ I said.”
Here’s the incident. So what do you think?
Don’t mess with Zlatan.