By 90Min
October 04, 2017

If not for an intervention by a Malmo youth coach back in 1996, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's life could have been extremely different to the one he lives today, and the world may never have known the talents of the acrobatic Swedish forward.

At 15-years-old an apparent goal drought while playing in the Malmo youth team had cause Ibrahimovic to fall out of love with the game and consider giving it all up to go to work on the docks instead.

Manchester Evening News report that the injured striker - who resigned for Manchester United at the end of the summer and should return to first team at the end of the year - came close to giving up on the sport until a conversation with coach Johnny Gyllensjo changed his mind.

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"He was not so keen to play football anymore. As an amateur psychologist, I talked to him. I think he really liked to score some goals and he couldn't do it and this was a problem for him," Gyllensjo said.

"We could talk to each other and we had great respect for each other, and he started to move on in Malmo and play in the team. And so we are glad that we have a little bit of an influence in his career."

Gyllensjo's assistant at the time, Ola Gallstad, also recalled how after the intervention the young Zlatan's dedication helped him to fulfill his potential. 

He said: "The game would be on the Saturday and then he would be playing football on the Sunday in Rosengard. He played football every day." 


Despite Ibrahimovic eventually going on to bigger and better things, the two coaches have not lost touch with their former student.

"Me and Ola have contact with Zlatan today and we have been around Europe wherever he went in his career. It's great to be a friend to him," Gyllensjo added. "We usually meet him once a year when he's in Malmo if there's an opportunity for a cup of coffee or something. He has a lot to do when in Malmo!

"The club Malmo and also the town of Malmo has been known by him. It's huge PR for the town. He's really put Malmo on the map."

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