Published by Random House Publishing on 3 June 2014
Genres: Biography, Contemporary, Non-fiction
Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker with Paris Saint-Germain and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.
Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.
Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.
*I received a free ARC of I Am Zlatan from Random House via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
My I Am Zlatan Review
I am Zlatan reads as a stream of consciousness from Zlatan himself. It is as if Lagercrantz wrote down everything Zlatan said during a couple of interviews, and all of the shared thoughts are a part of this book. And while a lot of it was very interesting, there certainly were some things that felt like a little too much, too. Of course, everyone who watches soccer knows who Zlatan Ibrahimovic is, and while I’m not a soccer fan, I have seen parts of his games on TV. And sure, he’s a brilliant player, but this book is about much more than just soccer.
I am Zlatan starts with the trouble he had while playing for Barcelona, then we are brought back to his childhood as a poor immigrant, living with his mom and siblings and only spending some fun weekends with his dad. The fact that he had to fight for everything is probably why he is such a great soccer player right now – he never let anyone tell him what he couldn’t do, and he would never stop training to become better, watching videos, actual games, and try to learn new tricks in any way he could.
For soccer fans, I am Zlatan might just be the perfect book, because he shares a lot of himself, both about the clubs where he’s played, the other players he knows, his family, and what he thinks is needed to succeed. And it seems the key to his success is exactly the fact that he is stubborn, and that he has always dared to do his own thing, no matter what other people thought of him. Never giving up certainly is the way to go if one wants to achieve greatness.
I thought the writing was a little strange at times in I Am Zlatan, but this might be a translation issue, and I know I am going to need to get my hands on the Swedish (original) version so I can completely make up my mind. What I find strange could be due to the fact that there are very little editing between what I think Zlatan was saying, and how that is written down in the book. There are some pretty important lessons in there, though, especially for young people who want to become pro in their sport. Education is important! That way, you won’t get cheated when you sign your first contract. Always practice and try to become better. Eat right and sleep right. Dont’ let anyone get you down. And for once, I actually got one of my kids to read a book – even if he read the French version, and he was inspired to work harder both at school and at his sport.
Some of my favorite quotes
Because, don’t forget: You can take the boy out of the ghetto, but you can never take the ghetto out of the boy.
Even so, I’m sick of all the people who go around quacking, “I saw straight away that Zlatan would turn into something special, blah blah blah. I practically taught him everything he knows. He was my best bud.” That’s bullshit.
I was starting to get tired of it, though. I didn’t want to be a new van Basten. I was Zlatan, nothing else. I wanted to scream, No, don’t bring that guy up again, I’ve heard enough about him. Sure, it was cool as anything when he turned up in person – it was like, Wow! Is he talking to me?