As Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to his home town on Wednesday, some Malmo fans are torn over whether to support their prodigal son or the team that launched his career.
On a football pitch in the immigrant-heavy neighbourhood of Rosengard, where the 34-year-old Swede grew up, one of his childhood teammates sighed as he pondered where his sympathies would lie during the Champions League match between Malmo and PSG.
“Both, both. Maybe for Malmo a little bit more,” Ivan Milosevic said, before laughing and adding: “I’m a ‘Malmoitian’,” referring to a term for the city’s inhabitants.
Born the same year, both players began their careers at FBK Balkan, a local club founded by immigrants from the former Yugoslavia in 1962, which the club say makes them the oldest immigrant football team in Europe.
“He was a funny character, constantly up to a lot of mischief. Nicked bicycles, came with it to practice, always had a ball, bantered with others in the team…,” he said.
“He ran around and didn’t listen to the coaches. Did what he liked to do, dribbled when he was meant to pass.”
Almost 15 years after he left Malmo for Ajax, Ibrahimovic’s famous image remains intact as he regularly courts controversy, ranging from his recent claim that he put France “on the world map” to an offer to donate a signed bicycle to female players after the Swedish FA rewarded a male player with a new Volvo.
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