Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets a very Zlatan statue in his hometown

Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic poses in front of the bronze statue in his likeness during Tuesday's unveiling ceremony in Malmo, Sweden.
Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic poses in front of the bronze statue in his likeness during Tuesday’s unveiling ceremony in Malmo, Sweden.
(Johan Nilsson / TT News Agency via Associated Press)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided to give all the kids in his hometown of Malmo, Sweden, the day off school Tuesday to attend the unveiling of a statue in his likeness. What a guy!

Unfortunately for the tykes, Malmo school councilor Sara Wettergren pulled rank on the country’s all-time leading goal scorer. “You should not believe everything you read on Twitter,” she wrote while adding a smiling emoji to go with a retweet of Ibrahimovic’s invite to “all the young people from Malmo schools to attend the ceremony!”

In other words, those children will have to wait until their parents take them to see the statue of the local hero — that is if their parents decide it’s appropriate a nearly 9-foot, 1,100-pound bronze sculpture of a shirtless Ibrahimovic.


But hundreds of presumably adult fans did gather near the Stadion, where Ibrahimovic got his start playing for Malmo FF in 1999 (and where he’s rumored to be considering someday finishing his career), for the unveiling of the Galaxy striker’s sculpted alter ego.

Swedish Soccer Federation general secretary Hakan Sjostrand, left, and Malmo municipal executive board chair Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh unveil a statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Oct. 8.
(Johan Nilsson / TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Images)

Ibrahimovic told the crowd that the statue is “a symbol for those who do not feel welcome, do not fit in or feel that they do not look like everyone else. If I can, they can. I’m not special in any way, even though I’m best at what I do.”

His comment seems to reflect a sentiment he expressed in a 2016 Instagram post, which the Galaxy quoted in a tweet Tuesday: “When you come to New York, you have the Statue of Liberty. When you come to Sweden, you have the Statue of Zlatan.”

Ibrahimovic, 38, whose first name has been trademarked in Sweden, is one of the top players of his generation, with 13 league titles in Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and France. He signed with the Galaxy in 2018 and has 52 goals and 17 assists in 56 MLS games.

Partial nudity aside, Ibrahimovic’s statue follows that of former Galaxy star David Beckham as another well-done soccer sculpture, after the likenesses of soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Brandi Chastain and Mohamed Saleh weren’t quite nailed by their sculptors in the past.