Two years after he
was supposed to, Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived in Los Angeles to play in MLS. Now 36 and less than a year removed from a serious knee injury suffered while playing at England's Manchester United,
Ibra joins the LA Galaxy under a cloud of uncertainty.
But whatever edge he might have lost, he remains the same Ibra. Some call him arrogant; he says he's confident.
“I feel young," the Swede said at his introductory press conference on Friday. "I feel like Benjamin Button. I was born old, now I will die young, this is for sure. Don't worry about my age. I know I am . When I came to England, they all said I was old. I came in a wheelchair, and after three months I conquered England and they said I was flying. I know what I am able to do. I came here to win. I’ve already brought my family so my wife can take care of the family, and I can take care of what I’m good at, playing football. Just to settle very fast, get to know my teammates, get to know the coach, get to know the people around the club. Tomorrow is a big game. I feel excited. The lion is hungry.”
Ibrahimovic said he was supposed to come to the Galaxy after he left Paris St. Germain in 2016 but instead moved to Manchester United.
"My head was here," he said. "I wanted to come here, and it didn't happen. Okay. Things go sometimes like it's not supposed to go, but the destiny said that I will come here. So Los Angeles called and I answered."
Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski's persistence kept the deal alive. Ibrahimovic said Kirovski started calling him every day when interest picked back up.
“I was speaking more to him than I’ve spoke with my wife,” Ibrahimovic joked.
Ibrahimovic did not need to be convinced about the Galaxy. He knew all about it from David Beckham, who spent six seasons with the Galaxy before joining up with Ibra at PSG in 2013.
"Obviously, when I played with David in PSG, I get to know the person," said Ibrahimovic. "[He's a] fantastic guy, great family guy, fantastic football player. He had only positive things to say. I was already asking questions. 'How was it for him?' I just got a message from Beckham: 'Enjoy it. You will be enjoy.' Because he knows. He was one who took first step. He's super confident. He should only wish and be happy that I'm not playing in 2020 [when Beckham's Miami team is slated to begin play in MLS]."
Photo: LA Galaxy
played all of 103 minutes in his five-game comeback at Manchester United. "I didn't feel 100 percent," he said. "I didn't feel ready, so I took a step back."He doesn't want a spot in the Galaxy lineup
just because he is a big name.
"I'm there to give you results," he said, "and if I cannot do it, I will not let you force me or force somebody else to go on the field because of my name, just because of what I have achieved. I don't like it like that. I like to do something where I can give back, and that is giving results."
Despite his struggles at Manchester United, Ibrahimovic continued to train. And he was so excited get down to work on Friday that he says he asked Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid if he could work on his shooting after practice to prepare for Saturday's El Trafico match against LAFC.
“I’m available,” Ibrahimovic said. “I have so much adrenaline in me it can hold a long time, but the condition I don't know, let's see. I know I’m not here for only one game. I am here for a season. I know the coach wants to build it up and make me feel comfortable. If Coach needs me for the whole game, then I’ll be there for the whole game. if he needs me for one minute, I’ll be there for one minute. I am there to help and push."