From the Arsenal 'audition' to Guardiola's 'bullsh*t' - Zlatan Ibrahimovic's most colourful and controversial quotes

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Sweden press conferenceGetty

Love him or loathe him, it's always been impossible to ignore Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Swedish superstar has just announced his retirement at the ripe old age of 41 – and it's a testament to both his incredible talent and strength of character that he managed to stay at the highest level for so long.

Indeed, while injuries took their toll in recent seasons, Ibrahimovic managed to remain a towering presence in the modern game.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli repeatedly hailed the striker for the transformative effect he had on the club from the moment he returned to San Siro in January 2020, eventually inspiring a relatively young squad to a surprise Serie A title triumph in 2021-22 with his leadership skills, impressive professionalism and winning mentality.

It obviously helps that Ibrahimovic is as charismatic as it comes. He has long held the attention of the football world as much for what he says off the field, as what he does on it, so it's hardly surprising that younger team-mates often hung on his every word.

Of course, it all felt part of an act, almost a parody of the stereotypical arrogant footballer, one cleverly and cynical constructed to build a lucrative brand. As Olivier Giroud revealed, Ibrahimovic the man is very different to his egotistical Zlatan persona.

“He is a nice person," the veteran French forward told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "From the outside, he could seem focused on himself, but it’s not like this with those working with him every day."

Indeed, he once kicked Rodney Strasser in the head and yet the Sierra Leone international still insisted in an interview with the Corriere della Sera: "People think Ibra is a villain but he's a good guy, generous and nice."

However, there were plenty of fans and pundits who grew weary of Ibrahimovic's antics over the years, and there is certainly no denying that he occasionally stepped over the line.

Then again, his pithy put-downs and shocking outbursts are part of the reason why he was one of the most polarising and fascinating figures in football, as underlined by the selection of his most colourful and controversial quotes below...