Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Manchester United, Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford

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An exclusive interview with new Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat down with Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves to discuss his move to Manchester United, his ambitions and his future.

The 34-year-old also spoke about his expectations for the Premier League, playing with Wayne Rooney, and why Marcus Rashford is the "future of England". 

Here's everything Ibrahimovic had to say ahead of his Premier League debut at Bournemouth, in which he scored in a 3-1 victory.

Why here, why now?

It was the moment to come to England, and who would not come to Manchester United? I don't believe there is anybody who could say no to a club like Manchester United.

Probably the players that play for other clubs in England would like to come here, 100 per cent. I am very happy I am here and representing Manchester United. Even the name sounds cool. I'm super excited.

Had coming to England been on your mind?

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Actually, I hadn't really thought about it before this moment. When I was at Barcelona I had some interest from England but not really 100 per cent. Now it was 200 per cent, not just 100 per cent. Even last year, but I stayed at PSG.

What did you make of the Premier League from afar?

I found it very exciting. There is no team that is too dominant like in other competitions, it is more equal and at the end the one that has been best over the whole season will be the champion. The Premier League gets a lot of attention worldwide and there are many great teams. I found it very attractive.

"I don't believe there is anybody who could say no to a club like Manchester United. Even the name sounds cool. I'm super excited."

PSG dominated in France, you got lots of goals, awards, trophies, do you think you needed a new challenge?

I will never turn down a challenge, so when this challenge was presented to me I would never turn it down. I am not like many others who have it good and know they can perform at the top and would never change.

I am the opposite, I will take the challenge, work hard, I will sacrifice. We will see what the outcome is, but turning down a challenge does not exist in my world. I have been in every country, now England, and that is why I find the adventure cool. I came, I won, I went, hopefully I can do the same here.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates
Image: Ibrahimovic spent four seasons with PSG before joining Man Utd

Do you think there is any risk for you coming here? If so, does that make it more attractive?

The only risk is if I don't win. For me individually I don't see a risk. I have nothing to prove or demonstrate. I have my career, I have done what I have done, performed as I have, and I bring that to England. It's about coming and winning and making Manchester United shine again.

From your high standards, what do you have to achieve here to be satisfied?

If I win I will be satisfied, it's all about winning, if I can get the club back to where it belongs at the top of the table I will be happy. I am here to win. The individual comes from the collective, if I can win with the team then the individual is good also.

"Turning down a challenge does not exist in my world."

You said you regretted that you were only with Jose Mourinho for one season, but is this just for one year again or could it be more?

Let's see what happens. You never know. It could be more than two, it could be more than three, let's see how long I feel like I can perform. I will not be somewhere only because I am Ibrahimovic. I will be somewhere because I can perform and bring results.

You have done it before in other leagues, but do you think there is anything you particularly have to adapt to here?

I have to adapt to the team, the way the coach wants to play and the way the game is being played. I bring what I am good at, so it's a kind of combination.

How do you find the balance, adapting to what they do here and also your own strengths?

Wherever you go it's the same thing. I adapted to Holland, I adapted to Italy and the Italian style. You come and you learn. I will learn more than what I have done so far. It will make me stronger.

I will not be somewhere only because I am Ibrahimovic. I will be somewhere because I can perform and bring results.
Ibrahomovic on his future

Jose has described you as a gift to the likes of Marcus Rashford, they can learn from you and you can help them. In what way do you think you can help the younger players and also did anyone particularly help you when you were young?

I can do a lot for the young players. I have been at the top for 10-15 years, I have played for clubs that players could only dream about and I have won with every club I have been at. I have played with big champions, big quality, top players, this is something I have brought with me and I give to the younger players.

This ability, the focus, what they need to do, the demands of a player. I see Rashford as a huge talent, I have been here two weeks and I also saw him last season. I get to see him live every day now and he is the future of England. He just needs to keep working hard, keep focusing and everything will come by itself.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Marcus Rashford of England looks on ahead of the International Friendly match between England and Australia at Stadium of Li
Image: Ibrahomovic thinks Rashford is the 'future of England'

I got help from many players. I remember I went to Juventus where all the big stars were, I saw the way they were behaving, training, how professional they were, how they were eating. You study all the small details and start to do the same. Then you become one of them.

How do you think you will work playing alongside Wayne Rooney?

I think it will work very well. The more time we spend on the pitch together, the more we get to know each other. We will understand each other very well. We like to play football, we like to come and get the ball and build up the game. But it's not only about two players, it's a team sport.

Two players depend on the other players, so if the two are to work they need to work together. It's 11 players that need to work together, if that happens then the two is not a problem.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney look on in training
Image: Rooney and Ibrahomovic are set to play together for United

He's an intelligent player and I think I am too. I will not be in his way and I believe he will not be in mine. So it's an easy combination.

You have said this feels like the biggest club you have played for, and you've played for some big clubs, like Juventus, Barcelona and Ajax. What has given you that sense about Manchester United?

The way everything is done here. When I come to the training ground it's massive. The history of the club, the players that have been playing here, all the attention the club gets, fans everywhere. I go right I see the fans, I go left I see them, wherever I go I see the fans.

"I don't believe in acting. I don't get paid to act. I am always myself. I don't pretend anything. Either people like it or they don't - I don't care."

It's massive. It's top level. I played for Barcelona and also Juventus and Milan, it's the same thing, but I think this could be one step more. To have the luck to play for such a big clubs, to play with big players, I don't know how many players have had that luck. I had it, I won with them, and hopefully I can do it here.

Goalscorer, winner, funny. That's how Jose Mourinho described you in three words. How would you describe yourself in three words?

I don't like to describe myself, that's for others to do. It depends. I am a normal person. People have the image of me that I'm a bad boy; I'm this and I'm that. People are curious: 'How is this Zlatan?'

I'm a family guy. I'm taking care of my family, but when I come on the pitch I'm a lion. That's the big difference. I don't believe I'm arrogant in the way that people think. I'm confident. I believe in myself. That's not being arrogant. That's something I believe is an individual strength in the human being.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring Manchester United's second goal against Leicester in the Community Shield
Image: Ibrahimovic scored the winner in the Community Shield

I have confidence and I believe in myself. I have a vision and I do everything. I work hard for it. I don't believe that's arrogant.

There's a fine line between supreme confidence and arrogance. Also, perhaps some people don't realise that most stuff you say you say with a big smile on your face and tongue in cheek. You play up to this image, you have fun with it don't you?

I have a lot of fun with it, I am just being myself. I am not pretending to be somebody I am not. I am not pretending to be perfect. I make mistakes, I have made mistakes, I learn from it. But I will still make them, that's being human, and everybody does the same thing. The one who thinks he is perfect will fall very fast.

Is a lot of it an act? Dare to Zlatan is you having fun?

I don't believe in acting. I don't get paid to act. I am always myself. I don't pretend anything. Either people like it or they don't - I don't care. I am not here to make up an act, I am here to play football, here to win. At the end of your career, people remember you for what you have won, not for the people who act.

But you look like you have fun along the way?

I have a lot of fun. You need to bring the positive energy and give it away.

"I see Rashford as a huge talent. I get to see him live every day now and he is the future of England."

Do we know the real Zlatan?

There are few people that know me close. The papers and the media have an image of Zlatan which I don't believe is the true Zlatan, but I have fun with it. If the media makes money writing a story about somebody…they need to eat food just like me.

Have you got a motto?

I think it's all about destiny. Whatever happens is supposed to happen, that's what I believe. It was meant for me to come to England after all the talk.

Are you someone who lives in the present, not the past?

The past is the past, the present is the present. Whatever happened has happened, it is not something I think about now. It's about making new chapters in your life. We are in a new chapter now, we are ready for it.

Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates his goal against Real Madrid
Image: Barcelona are among Ibrahimovic's former clubs

What do you make of the competition in the Premier League this season?

It will be very exciting. All the big coaches in one league, teams fighting for the Premier League, especially after last year when it was won by an outsider. You have players coming too and clubs are investing a lot. It will be a very interesting season.

What are you expecting from it?

I expect a lot of things. The one that will win will be the one that is the strongest, of course, that has the best equilibrium throughout the season, not just on the pitch, mentally too.

"I have nothing to prove or demonstrate. I have my career, I have done what I have done, performed as I have, I bring that to England."

And personally, is about the amount of goals you score, or do you get as much satisfaction from helping the team to score?

In my career people say this player is an ego and he is that, but look at how many assists I have. When I make assists and help the team to score it's the same as when I score. Goals yes, I help the team, but assists also help the team, so I am looking for both.

How much do you see this whole thing as an adventure?

This is a new chapter in my career. It's a huge adventure and I am working hard for it, and the hard work will pay off.

Watch an extended version of Geoff Shreeves' interview with Ibrahimovic On Demand and on our digital platforms.

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