• International Friendly

Ibrahimovic demands respect from English critics

ESPN staff
November 15, 2012

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he has forever silenced his critics after scoring four goals - including an outrageous overhead strike in injury time - to hand Sweden a 4-2 triumph over England.

Ibrahimovic's performance was lauded by his Three Lions counterpart Steven Gerrard following the match in Stockholm. However, the Paris Saint-Germain striker says his talents have not always been appreciated in England, until now.

"That's the way it is with the English," Ibrahimovic said. "If you score against them you're a good player, if you don't score against them you're not a good player.

"I remember Lionel Messi before the 2009 Champions League final for Barcelona ... then he scored against Manchester United and suddenly he was the best player in the world. Maybe now they'll say something like that about me."

The 31-year-old's remarkable fourth goal came when he anticipated England goalkeeper Joe Hart's clearing header and reacted with an acrobatic overhead kick from 30 yards. The strike took his international tally to 39 goals in 85 appearances, and Ibrahimovic rejoiced by ripping off his shirt and celebrating with the fans.

"Hart was a long way out and I was just trying to get it into the goal. I was on the ground when it was on the way in. I saw a defender sliding in to try to get rid of it and I wanted to scream 'No' but the ball went in.

"Even if it was a friendly I had to show my happiness and give it back to the crowd. What went through me then it's hard to describe. I enjoyed it very much," he explained.

Sweden boss Erik Hamren described the feat as like "watching a video game", but insists it is not unusual for Ibrahimovic to create the unexpected.

"I don't know if you're going to see another one like that in your life," said Hamren. "Sometimes, when he's doing these things, in training or in matches, you don't think it's possible. Because it's not possible to do that - the fourth goal, for example."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.