Zlatan Ibrahimovic told the Daily Mail his children are the reason why he is playing at Man U. “Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed he was convinced to join Manchester United by his two children — and is relishing proving himself when many doubted he would succeed in English football.
The talismanic United striker scored twice, including the late winner, against Southampton in the EFL Cup final at Wembley to claim the 32nd trophy of his career and Jose Mourinho’s first in Manchester.
Ibrahimovic is well aware his ability to make it in England has been constantly questioned by his critics throughout his career, even though he has won titles in Spain, Italy, France and Holland, in part down to his repeatedly unimpressive displays against English opposition in Europe
After lifting the League Cup on Sunday he is basking in proving his doubters wrong. He said: ‘It is special, not about age, I was not worried about age because I know what I am able to do.
‘It is because I am here in England. After all these years [people said] “he didn’t come and show himself here” but I came. And I came when people thought it was impossible for me to do what I am able to do. It feels good. I am enjoying it.’
But Ibrahimovic is unlikely even to be at United if it was not for Mourinho and the persistence of his two boys, Maximilian, 10, and Vincent, eight. The Swede was planning to move elsewhere until Mourinho called him in the summer, when he was out of contract after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, and his children persuaded him to choose Old Trafford.
‘My mind was not here,’ he admitted. ‘Then my kids started to bump my head and Jose called, then I am here. In your career you have moments. I did not come to England before because it was not the moment. I came when I thought it was the moment and the moment was there.
‘If we speak about the coach, England, the Premier League, the club has to thank him because he called me and asked me to come here, otherwise I would not have been here. Even my two kids wanted to see me play at United.
‘I had my mind somewhere else. Before everything was coming on top of the table, then Jose called. I have a special relationship with him. When he called it was basically, “Tell me what number I should wear”.’
Mourinho wants Ibrahimovic, who already has 26 goals in 38 games, to stay for another year. The Portuguese insisted he will not beg Ibrahimovic to remain at the club, but joked that he would send supporters to wait outside his house.
Ibrahimovic indicated that he has not made a decision whether to extend his one-year deal, but said it is not dependant on United qualifying for the Champions League.
‘It’s not about that,’ he explained. ‘I came here and the club wasn’t in the Champions League. So it had nothing to do with the Champions League. It has nothing to do with that.’
And he will only continue if he can deliver match-winning performances, which he demonstrated he is still fully capable of against Southampton with a stunning free kick to open the scoring and an 87th-minute header to win it.
‘I will stop on top,’ he said. ‘I will not play one game by being Ibrahimovic and for what I did before. If I don’t perform, if I don’t bring results, I will not play.