Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes his outspoken and flamboyant personality have held him back when being seriously considered for the Ballon d’Or, an award he considers “politically’ motivated.
The mercurial Swedish legend is unquestionably considered one of modern football’s greatest-ever strikers, turning out for some of the game’s biggest clubs, including Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester United, Ajax, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.
Across a trophy-laden career that has spanned beyond two decades, the 40-year-old has scored a staggering 510 goals, mopping up individual accolades and silverware aplenty, but the Ballon d’Or has eluded his grasp in an era dominated by two superstars.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo formed an unbreakable duopoly on football’s most-coveted individual accolade for a decade, with their stranglehold, which started in 2008, finally coming to an end when Luka Modric sealed the gong in 2018.
Ibrahimovic, for his own efforts, has never placed in the top three, meaning that even in a world without Messi and Ronaldo, he never would have won the award, coming closest in 2013 after placing fourth, behind Ronaldo, Messi and Franck Ribery.
Despite this, Ibrahimovic says he has no burning desire to win the Ballon d’Or because the makers and shakers want a “Mr Perfect” poster boy, which he admits is not his style.
He told Bild: “These are political awards. They want ‘Mr Perfect’.
“If you speak and say what you think you can’t get them.
“It’s easy to give them to Mr Nice Guy. It doesn’t change anything for me, it doesn’t make me better or worse.”
Ibrahimovic has seen his talents take him from Malmo to Milan, to Manchester and even a stateside sojourn for MLS giants LA Galaxy, but despite his globe-trotting predilection, he is yet to appear in the Bundesliga, the last of Europe’s top five leagues that he is yet to conquer.
He added: “I have always been curious about the Bundesliga. There is a team like Bayern Munich, they are an incredible club.
“Every time I played against them I could always see their facilities, the stadium, their organisation. The history of the club is impressive.”