Despite the fact that he is still an active player, a new film releasing Friday attempts to chronicle the narrative of Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic by focusing on the star’s youth growing up in an impoverished district of Malmo.
Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s most successful player, is still playing for AC Milan at the age of 40. He is noted for his confidence and swagger, which contrasts with his generally more humble teammates.
He began his career with Malmo FF in Sweden in 1999 and has since gone on to play for famous clubs such as Ajax, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and Manchester United.
The film “Jag ar Zlatan” (I am Zlatan), which opens Friday, is based on the autobiographical book of the same name, but director Jens Sjogren told AFP that he intended to focus on the player’s early years.
“When I read the first chapters of the novel, I thought of my own youth,” Sjogren said, adding that by focusing on the young Zlatan, the film is likely to appeal to people who aren’t just fans of “Ibra.”
“Even though Zlatan had a difficult childhood, we’ve all been children and struggled with different things,” the 45-year-old filmmaker explained.
For Sjogren, it was critical that the film depict the story from the perspective of a child.
“We get to experience what he’s experiencing, but if there are things he doesn’t hear or comprehend, we as viewers shouldn’t understand it either,” he said.
‘It’s a great honor’
The film begins following Zlatan when he is about 12 years old and is having difficulty in school. It also depicts him moving away from his mother and into his father’s home before embarking on his first years as a professional footballer at Malmo and Ajax.
First-time performers Dominic Bajraktari Andersson, 15, and Granit Rushiti, 22, who represent Zlatan at different ages, were given the potentially daunting challenge of impersonating a still alive superstar on television.
“He’s a fantastic footballer, arguably the best in the world.” “He’s a legend, and it’s an honor for us to play him,” Rushiti told AFP.
Rushiti, a former promising young footballer who had to quit due to an injury, claimed Zlatan had already been an inspiration to him.
“I’ve played football my entire life, so he’s been an important part of my life and my football career.” So I’ve learned a lot from him,” Rushiti explained.
Rushiti and his younger co-star are both from Scania in Sweden’s extreme south, as is Zlatan.
“He hasn’t always been a football role model for me, but he has been a role model in other ways.” I enjoy his demeanor and how he is as a person. We are both from the same region and live in the same city, Malmo. As a result, he’s been a fantastic role model,” Andersson told AFP.
When the filming was completed, the two young actors had the opportunity to meet Zlatan in Milan.
“Before we started filming, I felt Zlatan was pretty rough; he almost looked terrifying.” But when I met him, he was incredibly nice, charming, and full of jokes. “He helped me to relax, and all my nerves suddenly vanished,” Andersson added.
“It was like meeting a living legend you’d admired.”
The film will be released in theaters in Zlatan’s home nation of Sweden on Friday. More countries will join in the coming weeks.
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic is widely regarded as the finest footballer Sweden has ever produced, his star in his hometown of Malmo has dimmed somewhat.
Just months after a statue of the local hero was constructed in Malmo, it became the focus of repeated acts of vandalism after Ibrahimovic declared his intention to purchase a stake in Malmo’s rivals, Stockholm-based Hammarby.
The statue has been spray-painted, knocked over, and portions of it have been sawn off, which supporters see as a betrayal.