Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha says Zlatan Ibrahimovic acted like a “complete thug” by threatening him with harm and suggested the striker will get preferential treatment from Major League Soccer.
Onuoha and Ibrahimovic clashed during the match between RSL and the Galaxy on Sunday, with the Swede's 78th-minute winner proving the difference in a 2-1 contest.
And the defender says things were normal for much of the contest, but things heated up as the second half wore on.
“He fouled me, grabbed me round by the neck and threw me to the floor,” Onuoha told Love Sport Radio. “I was on the floor with my hands by my sides and thinking 'what's going on?', and looking at him as if to say such a thing.
“He got really angry at me and started telling me to stop waving my hands around and to get up.
“I was confused and in a non-PG way I started to say a few things like 'what's your problem?'.
“He started to get more and more and more angry to the point where it was actually threatening so I stood up, started to defend myself and say to him 'what do you think you are actually going to do?'.
“He just became really angry for some reason and he started to become hostile from that point. Ten minutes later, a similar challenge happened and he hit me on the top of the head. I was looking at the referee saying 'what is going on?'.
“For me as a player, as much as people may like me or don't like me, I'm not a dirty player. I will be physical and I will compete but there is never any malice in it. But now a guy is saying to me that he is essentially going to break my legs before this game is finished.”
Onuoha said the threats gave him extra motivation to stop
“He didn't affect the way that I played, it just motivated me more
“These are words I've probably heard twice or three times in all my career, usually by people who are complete thugs. It's one thing to be competitive but it's another thing to be threatening harm against another professional.
“So I was playing with that over my head, thinking every time I came close to him 'is this going to be the time?'. That's not the way you're supposed to play the game.”
The former Manchester City defender believes Ibrahimovic actually played a poor game despite scoring the game-winning
That goal saved Ibrahimovic from an embarrassing night, according to Onuoha, who refused to accept the striker's post-match apology after he entered the RSL dressing room.
“The biggest regret for is that the striker will always have the last word,” he said. “They don't have to play well.
“And this was against a guy who has had the last word 500 times before, which is really frustrating. Because if he didn't score the goal, he would have been seen as a laughing stock because he had such a bad game.”
Despite the threats, Onuoha does not expect any punishment for
“He's not going to get anything done to him,” Onuoha added. “It will get spun into a story about how he's really competitive and this is what gets him going, this is why he's one of the best of all time. That's just the way that it works.
“I'm not the type of person to say that the better MLS players get preferential treatment but from what I've seen so far, it's a lot easier to be Zlatan than it is to be the striker for Real Salt Lake.”