SI Staff
Friday June 17th, 2016

Zlatan Ibrahimovic certainly wasn't Zlatan back then, but perhaps it planted a seed for what was to follow.

Ibrahimovic's 85th-minute goal against Italy at Euro 2004 forced a 1-1 draw and put Italy on the cusp of going out of the tournament in the group stage. It was the manner in which he scored it–and against whom–that makes it so special, though, and so prominent as Sweden takes on Italy 12 years later in the Euro 2016 group stage on Friday.

The then-22-year-old Ibrahimovic beat a then-26-year-old Gianluigi Buffon to a failed clearance off a corner kick, and with his back to the goal, he improvised. The flying back-heel looped over Christian Vieri at the near post, sent the Swedish fans in Porto into hysteria and was the first goal Ibrahimovic scored at a major senior international tournament.   

He has gone on to score five goals across the next two-plus European Championships and entered Euro 2016 three behind Michel Platini's all-time record of goals in the competition (nine). In case you don't remember the strike, weren't aware of it or just want to watch it again, here is that audacious Ibrahimovic effort:

“It is not a beautiful memory for me, although later I was able to appreciate the technical ability,” Buffon told The Guardian this week in the build-up to their rematch. “Zlatan was still quite young; we didn’t know how far he would go. [Since then] he has shown his ability.”

Ibrahimovic will be hoping for a repeat performance of that ability on Friday.

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