Zlatan Ibrahimovic considers the quality of the Premier League to be “overrated”, but is pleased that his efforts with Manchester United helped to silence any doubters.
The enigmatic Swede arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2016 having enjoyed trophy-laden spells in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France with the likes of Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
His arrival in England as a free agent saw questions asked of his ability to deliver on such a competitive stage, but he starred at 35 years of age and plundered 28 goals across all competitions – including match-winning efforts in the Community Shield and EFL Cup final.
Ibrahimovic never doubted that he would be a success, with confidence a quality he rarely struggles for, and claims to have found life at United easier than he expected.
“People said, ‘You don’t need to go to England, because if you fail in England, people will always say you weren’t good enough’. Everybody was against it. And guess what? That made me motivated. That gave me adrenaline.
“I liked the Premier League. I found it very motivating and very exciting. It gets a lot of attention, although I feel the quality is a little bit overrated – the individual quality, the technical part.
“But the rhythm is high. Even if you are the best, if you can’t handle the rhythm, the pace, then you will not succeed, because the pace is very high.”
Ibrahimovic feels he would have made even more of an impact in England had he made a move earlier in his career, with a mockery having been made of those who dared to write him off before he opened a productive spell at Old Trafford.
He added: “I’m super proud and super happy that I went to United – it was the right club.
“We won, and I did what I did before I got injured. I had an excellent time – great memories. I’m attached to United forever. The supporters are amazing: wherever I went, I saw red shirts, which was fantastic. It’s a very important moment in my career.
“As I said when I was in England, you’re lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago, because if I did what I did at 35 years old, imagine it if I was 25. Then it would have been a different story.
“I came there and they said I came in a wheelchair. All the people that talked, in the whole Premier League, I put them in a wheelchair. That’s what I did.”
Ibrahimovic saw his 2016-17 campaign ended by a serious knee injury, while a short-term contract penned in 2017-18 was cut short as Jose Mourinho freed him to make a move to America.