Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has asserted that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the very best athletes, insisting that his sublime fourth goal in the recent 4-2 win over England cannot be scored by the average footballer.
Having already scored a hat-trick to put the Swedes 3-2 up against the Three Lions, Ibra caught Joe Hart off guard with a brilliant over-head spot-kick from distance to double his nation’s advantage late in the match.
Reactions from around the globe have reaffirmed initial thoughts that Zlatan’s incredible finish would go down as one of the finest goals in the history of international football.
Wenger’s views are no different as he has always regarded the Paris St. Germain star as an extra-ordinary athlete.
“I believe we are all amazed because, sometimes, when a guy has a shot from 30 yards and puts it in the top corner, you say ‘it’s a fantastic goal’ – but somehow you believe you can do that as well, even if you cannot do it on a consistent level,” Wenger was quoted by Arsenal’s official website.
The manager added: “But when he scores a goal like that, you think it’s impossible for a normal athlete. You have to be an exceptional athlete to do that.
“They say he’s a master in kung fu. You could see that on Wednesday night. You need some special flexibility, subtleness and physical strength to do that, apart from the fact that you have to realise what you have to do.
“When [England goalkeeper Joe] Hart headed the ball, he took a distance to eventually get the ball. There’s intelligence included as well. I’m an admirer of collective goals, but as an individual achievement, just you and the ball in the situation of the game, it is something exceptional.”
As someone with a reputation of scouting talented young players well before they turn into renowned stars, Wenger explained that the Gunners once pursued Ibrahimovic unsuccessfully but despite the Swede’s refusal to further negotiations with Arsenal as a 16-year old, he retains the club’s respect.
“He came here to visit the training ground. He didn’t want to make a trial because he was 16 years old at the time. He went home and we concluded to watch him again.
“I wanted to see him in training but it didn’t stop him from making a great career. In the end, he chose to go to Ajax Amsterdam. That happens. He’s not the only one in that case.
“The confidence he shows… if a performance isn’t there you can say [that] you don’t agree with it, but when a performance is there, you think [that] his confidence is justified. Through his career, he has justified why he believes in his own talent,” Wenger concluded.