Zlatan Ibrahimovic has apologised to Manchester United fans for not arriving at the club earlier in his career, promising they would have seen “a different lion”.
Ibrahimovic, the leading international scorer in Swedish history, spent the best part of two seasons at Old Trafford following his arrival in 2016 from Paris Saint-Germain, and helped the Red Devils to win the EFL Cup in his first year.
A severe knee injury sustained late in the 2016-17 campaign restricted his appearances the following season however and he transferred to LA Galaxy in March this year, having last played for United against Burnley in December.
“I feel sorry for the fans – if they’d seen me younger, they’d have seen a different lion,” he declared, in his unmistakable style.
“For the Premier League, it would have been dangerous, as I would have eaten them for breakfast; instead, I took them for lunch. But I came: they wanted me, I gave them me and I took over. Been there and done that.
“I would need more time to explain my feelings but let’s start with a big thanks to everybody – what they did was amazing and I hope they are as happy as I am,” he continued.
“I gave as much as I could for as long as I could; when I got injured, I got support in a different way. They always stood behind me and my team-mates.They are special: everywhere I see red, I think about United. It will remain in history and my career; when I look back at my time with United, I will do it with a smile. I wish them all the best in the future.”
Ibrahimovic, who joined LA Galaxy after leaving Old Trafford, has backed his former club to have a “special season” after watching them train in the USA.
Ibrahimovic, who also had stints with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan and Barcelona before joining United, has tipped his former side to have a “special season” after he attended a training session on their International Champions Cup tour of the United States.
United, under Jose Mourinho, kicked off their ICC campaign against Ibrahimovic’s old side AC Milan in California withy a 1-1 draw before they meet Liverpool in a Premier League derby at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. They then conclude their trip to the USA against Champions League holders Real Madrid at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Ibrahimovic reckons his skills are transferable to basketball and he could play with Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James “without a problem”.
The big Swede had some welcoming words for the 33-year-old legend, praising his athleticism and comparing their skills.James has joined Ibrahimovic in LA following his switch from the Cleveland Cavaliers and the former Barcelona, Manchester United and Sweden man is relishing the prospect of watching the NBA forward in action. Ibrahimovic even claimed the pair moved in a similar fashion, like “small ninjas”.
In an interview,Ibrahimovic said: “I think of course I will see him play basket. I don’t know if he’s interested in soccer, even though soccer is bigger than basket with all the respect for basket. Of course, I will see him.
“I think he as an athlete is amazing and what he is doing, the way he is doing it – because I see myself also being so big and [being able to] move like a small ninja. What he does also – I find it fancy, and that inspires a lot of people.”
Ibrahimovic believes his hand-eye co-ordination means he could pick up basketball pretty quickly, adding: “I did a lot of sport. Everything with [a] ball, I’m phenomenal [at] so if I play basket, I could play with LeBron without a problem.”