Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini has labelled Zlatan Ibrahimovic the toughest opponent he has faced in his career apart from “extra-terrestrial” duo Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Old Lady stalwart has encountered the towering Swede on multiple occasions at both club and international level, with the deadly marksman having previously donned the shirts of both AC and Inter Milan.
How has Ibra fared against Chiellini? Five things to know…
- Ibra has faced Juve on nine occasions across his career for both AC and Inter Milan.
- During that time he has won just two matches, drawing three and losing on four separate occasions.
- Despite his impressive goalscoring record, he has scored just once against the Old Lady.
- He has also faced Chiellini at international level, a 1-0 Italy win against Sweden in Euro 2016.
- Chiellini may have got the better of Ibra on paper, but that has not stopped the Italian lauding his ability.
The 38-year-old striker has also previously turned out for Juve, and was once a teammate of Chiellini for a season between 2005 and 2006, before going on to become one of the Italian’s greatest on-pitch adversaries.
Speaking to Juve’s Junior Members at the Allianz Stadium, Chiellini was quizzed on the most difficult opponents he has come up against during his glittering career, to which he placed Ibra in the bracket of Messi and Ronaldo.
He said: “Apart from Ronaldo and Messi, who are two extra-terrestrials, I always say Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“He had physical strength, technique, personality… I had the fortune to play with him and against him.”
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“I was a Milan fan, unfortunately”
The Juve legend went on to discuss his childhood and confessed that he was actually an AC Milan supporter growing up, revealing his admiration for Rossoneri great Paolo Maldini, before he eventually found sense.
He stated: “I was a Milan fan, unfortunately, then I got better. I became smarter growing up. Maldini was my favourite player.
“I have a twin brother, he was a Juve fan and I had to go against him and be Milan. Can you imagine how happy he was when Juve bought me when I was 20 years old?
“When I moved here I immediately fell in love with the club, and now I think it’s difficult to find a bigger Juve fan on this earth than me.”