Ibrahimovic is particularly brilliant when it comes to volleys and half volleys but there are only a very small number of players who could even think of executing a goal like he scored against England on Wednesday night, never mind actually doing it successfully.
As well as the skill and the balance required to pull it off, you also have to consider the thought processes that occurred as he saw Joe Hart coming to make the header. It looks as though Ibrahimovic already had the picture in his mind before Hart even made contact with the ball. He shapes his body before it comes into his path and it is clear he made his mind up very early over what he wanted to do.
Most people would have brought that ball down, especially with their team winning 3-2, but he has chosen a far more difficult option. Not only has he decided to shoot, but he has realised there are people between him and the goal so he has had to give the ball elevation as well to ensure it can't be blocked. He has also had to do it at an angle and from long range.
Most people wouldn't be able to generate the requisite power with an overhead kick like that, let alone hit the ball with the correct trajectory to find the back of the net. There are so many things to consider - the technique and imagination involved is astonishing.
The three goals earlier in the night were fantastic as well. We talk about technique, well that second one was quite something. The way he took it on the chest was brilliant and then the finish wasn't a wild slash. It was a controlled volley but he has just got so much power because he hits the ball so cleanly. The first goal was a fine finish too. Ibrahimovic often scores goals that look a bit lucky but they aren't. He knows exactly what he is doing and he has an answer to every situation.
It is difficult to try and make the case for it being the best goal of all time though. It was a split-second thing, and I prefer a goal that is more considered, like Diego Maradona's against England, John Barnes's against Brazil or George Weah's famous dribble for AC Milan when he went the full length of the pitch. I just have a thing for a dribble - they have a little bit more to them.
Context is also important. Sweden were winning 3-2 in a friendly which diminishes the goal's claims a bit. Barnes also suffered in that respect with his goal at the Maracana, while Maradona's was even more brilliant given the circumstances. People can decide where it ranks among the all-time greats, but take nothing away from Ibrahimovic: it was a truly amazing moment.
I have come to really admire Ibrahimovic as a player over the past few years. Initially I had my reservations about him as he has moved around clubs rather a lot, which is always concerning. He hasn't always got on well with team-mates and there used to be a worry over his work-rate and application. But it seems he has put all of that behind him now and he has realised that it is better to demonstrate to the world what skills he has and become one of the greats.
We all know there are two players in world football who are by far and away the best, but Ibrahimovic is battling for that third place. You have Xavi and Andres Iniesta too, but he is a genuine game-changer and a very unique talent. He has scored goals everywhere he has gone - and great ones too. There is absolutely no need to doubt him any more.
- Sports & Recreation
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic