Critics eat their words after Ibrahimovic's great goal

Nov 15, 2012

Swedish striker's masterclass finally convinces sceptical English of his talents

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC has often been regarded as an over-rated preening egomaniac by British football fans, but after his four-goal masterclass, capped with one of the most remarkable international goals ever, his critics have been lining up for a helping of humble pie this morning.

Among them is Dominic King of the Daily Mail, who had publicly questioned the Swede's talents on Twitter during Euro 2012. Five months later and he has changed his tune. "Zlatan, it would appear I owe you an apology. The hype was right," wrote King.

"Ibrahimovic was breathtaking; powerful, dominant and aggressive," he went on. "His gravity-defying bicycle kick in injury time was scarcely believable and defined his performance, but just as good was the nonchalant way he dispatched the first of his four goals. That was the hallmark of a striker playing at the top of his game." penned an open letter to the Swedish striker, apologising for ever doubting him and admitting that his performance had "transformed the psychological make-up of modern (English) football".

The website noted that England fans had branded Ibrahimovic a "shit Andy Carroll" on Wednesday night. "We now accept that to be a vicious slur," it said. "You have convinced a nation."

It was the "ultimate one-man show" said The Mirror, "that may, just may, have convinced the many Premier League doubters".

But perhaps it should not have come as a surprise. "English football has been braced to be scarred by Ibrahimovic for some time," said The Guardian. "The nomadic Paris St-Germain striker had previously scored four times against English opponents in 1,536 minutes – whether with the national team, Ajax, Milan, Internazionale, Barcelona or Juventus – but managed that many in 90 minutes as the Friends Arena was christened in style."

He produced a masterclass, said Matt Dickinson of The Times. "All four goals demonstrated a level of technique from Ibrahimovic that has only seemingly been doubted in England," he noted.

And the incredible overhead kick saw Ibrahimovic "suddenly elevated alongside Diego Maradona, Zinédine Zidane and Marco van Basten in all sorts of debates about greatest goals".

His talents have never been in doubt in his homeland, says Paul Kelso in The Daily Telegraph. "Ibrahimovic is a superstar of Beckhamesque proportions here, his frequently self-regarding utterances only endearing him to the public. His recent autobiography has sold 500,000 copies in a nation of nine million... An English translation might also be in order. That way his critics at home can read his words having eaten their own."

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