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Zlatan: An example of triumphing against the odds

What do you do with a kid from a poor immigrant community whose body shape doesn’t look quite right, who likes to steal bicycles and who upsets other players? You either let them go and leave them out, never able to fulfill their talent or you encourage them even more and push them to focus on the right things and they might just grow up to be like Zlatan Ibrahimovic!!

At 15 Ibrahimovic preferred the idea of working in the docks of Malmo in Sweden as opposed to seeking a life as a professional footballer, fans of clubs like Barcelona, Ajax, and Saint-Germain and now Manchester United we’ll all be grateful he didn’t.
Where does that style come from?

Zlatan taught himself how to play, as a child he would play on a rough gravel pitch outside of his mother’s house and used to just walk everywhere with his ball. He became a disciple to football, never leaving it behind and always trying new tricks and using his tricks as a way of earning money as kids of the neighbourhood would pay try and get the ball off him!

How often do you hear of some of the world most technical players having grown up learning their trade on improvised pitches and away from the perfect grass surfaces of training centres and academies. These pitches teach kids new ways of predicting ball movement and mastering close control. This is definitely something you can see in Zlatan’s play – take notes guys, vary the surface you play on!!

Use what you’ve got!

Zlatan’s skinny tall frame meant that many trainers didn’t think he had the natural attributes to become a top top star. What does the big Swede go and do? He takes that as a challenge and built up his muscles to the point that his frame now is beast-like and sends shivers down the spines of defenders every time a cross is aimed towards him. His towering header is now one of his most potent weapons and instead of being gangling and awkward – Zlatan took his frame and his height and turned it into a defence battering weapon!

Young players should look at themselves, decide what they are good at, what they have that is different and what they can improve on – of course you want to be an all rounder so make sure you work hard on those areas of your game that can give you that little extra something and who knows – what your weak at now could one day be the strongest part of your game.

Helping your team use your talent

It happens doesn’t it quite regularly, a star emerges and is the standout player for their national team. This is arguably what happened to Zlatan, quite possibly one of the greatest players ever and certainly the best Swedish player of all time but his international career has been alongside other good, even some great players but none who were able to match what Zlatan brings to the table. Being the best player on a team is difficult but the best players make sure that their team uses their talents to the maximum.

Zlatan may be Sweden’s number 1 striker but he was also the heartbeat of the team, dropping deep when needed, holding the ball up in advances positions and even playing the role of playmaker at times. Zlatan changed his game to suit his team and lead them to multiple major tournaments – a true captain and an example of how great players can inspire greatness in others.

So if you begin to feel that you are beginning to outshine your teammates and it can happen as you progress as at a faster pace to others, speak to your coach about how you can be best use to the team, talk to those who watch your side – take control of the situation and become a better player and a great leader for your team on and off the pitch!!