Date: 30th August 2016 at 1:10pm
Written by:

On 1 July 2016, Zlatan Ibrahimović signed a one-year contract for Manchester United in a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, which had the option of being extended depending on his performance for the club.

He was 34 years & 298 days old (born on 3 October 1981) when he put pen to paper for the Red Devils. When Teddy Sheringham joined Manchester United from Tottenham Hotspur in June 1997 in a ₤3.5 million deal, many football pundits shook their heads in disbelief that Alex Ferguson had shelled out so much money on a 31-year old striker. Less than 12 months earlier Fergie parted company with ₤3.5 million for the services of a player who had shone at the 1996 European Championships, Slavia Prague and Czech Republic winger, Karel Poborský. However, Poborský was Super Ted`s junior by 7 years but as time proved, it was the man from Highams Park, London, and not the player born in Jindřichův Hradec, who would go on to cement his name in the history of our club when he scored our leveler in the infamous 2-1 win over FC Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final – AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!

Many football pundits questioned Jose Mourinho`s decision to purchase a player who many sportswriters labeled a journeyman player having played for Malmo FF (1999-2001, 40 games & 16 goals), Ajax Amsterdam (2001-04, 74 games & 35 goals), Juventus (2004-06, 70 games & 23 goals), Inter Milan (2006-09, 88 games & 57 goals), FC Barcelona (2009-11, 29 games & 16 goals), AC Milan on loan (2010-11, 29 games & 14 goals), AC Milan on loan (2011-12, 32 games & 28 goals) and Paris Saint-Germain on loan (2012-16, 122 games & 113 goals). But Jose had worked with Ibrahimović during his tenure in charge of Inter Milan (2008-10) and he knew firsthand what the Big Swede could bring to the table.

IBRA`S FACT FILE

? Ibra, along with a United Legend, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the only footballer to score a goal in every minute of a game (90 minutes) during their career.

? He is the only player to score in the UEFA Champions League for 6 different clubs – Ajax Amsterdam, Juventus, Inter Milan, FC Barcelona, AC Milan & Paris Saint-Germain.

? Ibra, along with Ronaldinho, is the only footballer to score a goal in Italy`s Derby della Madonnina (AC Milan v Inter Milan), Spain`s El Classico (FC Barcelona v Real Madrid) and France`s Le Classique (Olympique de Marseilles v Paris Saint-Germain). Here`s hoping he can notch-up a historic Quad on 10 September 2016 in the Manchester Derby!

? He is the only footballer to have won 13 League Championships in 4 different Leagues (the Eredivisie with Ajax Amsterdam in 2001-02 & 2003-04, Serie A with Juventus (2004-05 & 2005-06 – both revoked because of the Calciopoli Scandal in Italian football, La Liga with FC Barcelona in 2009-10 and Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain in 2012-13, 2013-14.

? Ibra is the only foreign player to have lifted the Capocannoniere with two different clubs, and remarkably for two different teams from the same city, Inter Milan (2008-09 & AC Milan in 2011-12). The Capocannoniere is Italy`s Golden Boot which Ibra won with Inter Milan in season 2009-09 after scoring 29 times and with their arch rivals, AC Milan, in season 2011-12, when he found the back of the net 28 times in Serie A.

? Zlatan is the only FC Barcelona player to score in his first five La Liga games.

? He is Sweden`s all-time leading goal scorer with 62 goals in his 116 appearances.

? He is the only Swedish player to score in three consecutive UEFA European Championship tournaments: 2004, 2008 & 2012.

Zlatan, nicknamed “Ibracadabra,” made his competitive Manchester United debut in our 2-1 win over the Premier League`s fairy tale 2015-16 Champions, Leicester City, in the FA Community Shield on Sunday 7 August 2016. He netted our winner in the 83rd minute at Wembley Stadium. In his Premier League debut for United one week later, he scored with a long-range strike in our 3-1 away win at AFC Bournemouth on the opening day of the 2016-17 season. On 20 August 2016, he made his Old Trafford debut and scored both goals, a header in the first half and a penalty in the second, in our 2-0 victory over Southampton. Zlatan became the ninth player to score in his first three games for United, and the first since Ian Storey-Moore in season 1971-72. Ironically, Hanson scored against Hull City in a 2-1 home win in the old Division Two on 15 November 1924, scored again a week later in a 1-1 draw away to Blackpool and on 29 November 1924 he netted in a 1-1 draw with Derby County at Old Trafford. However, he didn`t play again until the following season when United were back in Division One (finished runners-up to Leicester City in Division Two in season 1924-25). On 7 November 1925, Hanson scored in a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park.

So, who are these football pundits to question our new manager who has already indelibly stamped his name in English football with his achievements in charge of Chelsea Football Club? Only time will tell if Jose took a gamble with the enigmatic Swedish striker or if he played a Joker Card in bringing Zlatan to The Theatre of Dreams where he can fulfill his own dreams and forever place his individual marque on the English game just as Eric Cantona did with us from 1992-97. And let`s not forget that Ibra`s fellow countryman, Henrik Larsson, joined United on loan from Helsingborgs IF on 1 January 2007 aged 35 years and 102 days.

Zlatan may have just signed a one-year contract with us but I so want him to extend his relationship at Old Trafford beyond that. In fact, I want to see him get a place in the following table:

United’s Oldest Players in the Premier League Era

Edwin van der Sar (40 years, 205 days)

Ryan Giggs (40 years, 158 days)

Raimond van der Gouw (39 years, 48 days)

Paul Scholes (38 years, 184 days)

Laurent Blanc (37 years, 172 days)

Bryan Robson (37 years, 116 days)

Andy Goram (37 years, 29 days)

Denis Irwin (36 years, 192 days)

Did You Know That?

Zlatan has played for six clubs who have all won the UEFA Champions League, namely Ajax Amsterdam, Juventus, Inter Milan, FC Barcelona, AC Milan and United, but it is the one trophy that has eluded him in a winners` medal haul which reached No.31 after our Community Shield victory over The Foxes. Amazingly he left Inter Milan at the end of the 2008-09 season after helping them win Serie A and the Italian outfit then lifted the UEFA Champions League crown in season 2009-10; he left FC Barcelona at the end of the 2009-10 season after helping them win La Liga and the Spanish club then won the UEFA Champions League in season 2010-11. Only 22 clubs have won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League.