February 13th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

Pedro's point of view – Is Ibrahimovic a hero or villain?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off during PSG's win over Valencia (Getty Images).
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off during PSG's win over Valencia (Getty Images).

Why, Zlatan? Why did you have to do it? Your team was winning, there were just a few seconds left in the game, so what possessed you to stamp on Andres Guardado?

A lot of football fans are asking those questions today. It is difficult to understand why Zlatan Ibrahimovic lashed out at an opponent with Paris Saint-Germain in control of a European Champions League match against Valencia, earning the Swedish international a red card.

However, you shouldn’t expect an answer from the star striker, his teammates or his manager Carlo Ancelotti. I’m not sure anyone can comprehend some of the things the Swede does on the pitch.

But you know what? When it comes to Zlatan, not understanding is exactly the point. And that is why he is a hero in the world of football.

For years I have watched the lanky forward perform live at various stadiums around Europe and the only thing that I can say is that he never ceases to surprise me. I have seen games where he touches the ball three or four times the whole game and then suddenly bursts into life, scoring two or three decisive goals.

Yet, on other occasions, I have seen him run and fight for his club and country only to finish a match empty-handed. To borrow a phrase from Forrest Gump, Zlatan is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Many football fans will have branded the striker a villain following his latest exploit at the Mestalla Stadium. Many will say that once again he failed to deliver the goods in a key Champions League game - after all, he has only scored twice in this year's competition and missed eight clear-cut chances during the group stage.

I see that point, and I have criticized him in the past, but I choose instead to celebrate his genius and praise a player who I believe is still underrated in the world of football, a player who has created 14 chances for his teammates so far this season in Europe's top club competition.

Right now, if I was the manager of a top team and I was offered a chance to sign any striker in the world, I don’t know if I would look past Zlatan. There are a couple of guys who would make me think twice – Manchester United's Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid. Maybe even Napoli's Edinson Cavani. But that’s it.

Even at 31 years of age, Ibrahimovic is so talented and so influential that you overlook him at your own peril. After all, this is a winner.

He won eight straight league titles with five different clubs in three different countries. He knows what it takes to get the job done and delivers time and time again.

I can hear some of you out there now saying, “well he has never won the Champions League.”

It’s true - he hasn’t. But neither did Brazilian superstar Ronaldo and most fans around the world would agree that he is one of the best strikers to have ever laced a pair of boots.

So is he unpredictable? Yes. Volatile? Yes. Problematic? Yes. But he is also a genius on the pitch and above all a football hero. Trying to understand him is just a waste of time.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Mike

    If you know how he play, you know this stamp was not made intentionally.
    He have made those stamps before yes. But this time he does what he always does, he puts his foot between the player and the ball to keep possession. And this time he was to slow and timed it really bad and stamped the other player.

    But because it is Ibra the "villain", everybody looks at it of course as an intentionally stamp. His reputation follows him. Guess it's deserved though. No smoke without fire..

    February 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  2. Imran Fariz

    Hero most often Villain at times.He is both a Hero and a Villain.Ibra is a special mixture.With undoubted talent comes his attitude.It is worth it to have such a mercurial talent in your team.

    February 14, 2013 at 1:44 am | Reply

    He is a player I love to watch play the game even against the gunners last season, He might not be a fair player but He delivers that's all that maters, as for being a hero or villain I don't think He is either to Me He is a good player that knows His purpose on the pitch.

    February 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  4. Robert

    This is maybe the first time I don't agree on any point with Pedro at all! I don't think that deep analysis of this player is necessary! He just wants all attention wherever he plays. He is a destructive person with huge talent and great capabilities as player, but because of his selfishness he doesn't deserve to be discussed as some top player at all! He showed his bad side on the field and ability to hurt intentionally other player and because of that he shouldn't be in the group of great players of this game!

    February 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  5. My Daily Bread

    Reblogged this on sirbobsnotebook.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:55 am | Reply
  6. Christian Miles

    Zlatan is an enigma, equally fascinating and frustrating. Labeling him a hero or a villain, no he's more than that. Volatile, temperamental, gifted and controversial, the brilliant Swede has evolved from a mere player that transcends his own incredible abilities to become a colorful character that football thrives upon.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  7. Steve

    Zlatan is everything. I don't know if football ever has had such a personality. He fills the stadium like no one else when he enters the pitch.

    February 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  8. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Zlatan is extraordinary. His best is yet to come. Hoping he does justice to his enormous talent.

    February 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  9. Jorge

    I'm not really a fan of him..
    Although i've never seen him live, from what i've heard .. he's lazy.
    Soccer players should have good attitudes, his hair is also too long

    February 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  10. jeffrey

    It's a 'crime' to compare this man to Brazil's Ronaldo. Are u serious?
    Skills and honors aside, how can u compare this man with Ronaldo, who would absorb all kinds of viscious attacks with grace and calm. And what abt this man? Often times, he 's the one who deliberately goes out to hurt an opponent. I demand that u apologize to Ronaldo and the soccer fans out there who adore superstars not just for their skills but also for their gracefulness on the pitch.. I mean it!

    February 19, 2013 at 2:16 am | Reply
  11. fpagaci

    Totally agree with Jeffrey and Robert! It's like Jeffrey said, crime to compare this player with other great players of this game. Pedro, you are very wrong about Ibrahimovic , but I still don't know what is the reason. Why are you talking about this kind of person as a hero!??! Just don't mention him ever again, he didn't deserved it at all !!!

    February 20, 2013 at 8:50 am | Reply
  12. Mel

    Watch it again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=746LWDUoI_I

    Why would the player Zlatan "stamped" – barely touched – on the right foot hold his LEFT shin? Why would he roll around in ostensible pain only to pop up and run around when play resumed? Because the way in which Zlatan DID come over the ball to try and maintain possession of it gave a player – typical of the generation – who is READY to go down instead of play a chance to do so.

    Worst. Red. Card. Ever.

    What a faker! I hope PSG go through in the main to punish that.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
  13. Pig

    No one is perfect, people used to judge others in harsh way.

    We need enjoy what he has performed on the pitch and ignoring what he has misbehavioved.

    Take it easy

    February 28, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  14. Comfi

    The guy is an idiot that's all I can say. He is too full of himself, I have never seen someone who loves himself like Ibra. He thinks the whole world must revolve around him. That's why he didn't last at Barca. His character stinks.

    March 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  15. Ngc

    Mourinho? Bye-Bye!

    April 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  16. Ngc

    Mourning? Farewell!

    April 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Reply

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