SIMPLY ZLATAN

By Lene Haugerud

While we are all used to seeing rerun after rerun of zlatan ibrahimović’s spectacular goals on the soccer field, the footballer himself tries to avoid them, passing on ageless advice given to him by his father, saying “life has no reruns, so make sure you enjoy every day of your life”. We caught up with the superstar on one of those everyday days, on a yacht just outside of monaco.

 

The spectacular setting aside, chatting with the footballer turned sports fashionista, it quickly becomes apparent how important his domestic life is to him – and how deeply he values his responsibilities as a father. Zlatan has two children, Maximillian and Vincent, with Helena Seger, his long-time partner who is also is actively involved in his increasingly popular sportswear label A – Z. 

This domestic commitment might come as a surprise to some, as it clashes with the predominant image of Zlatan as a rebel, often cited as the most arrogant footballer in the world. And just as an image like that doesn’t stick unless it has some base in reality, there’s also another side to Zlatan. The one that picks up his children from school. As a way of enjoying every day of his life, as advised by his father.

When you have quality time with your sons, what do you do?
We do all sorts of things. Everything from helping out with schoolwork, gaming and watching movies. We do normal stuff like any other family. I try to support them in every way I can.

Do you cook for your children?
Of course I do. Specially now when Helena is so busy working with my brand A – Z.

So, who in the family decides what’s for dinner?
Well, we’re a bit spoiled ... we get a menu to choose from. So often, we eat three different courses. I don’t like it; I think we should all eat the same food to be honest.

While slightly letting us in on his own understanding of privilege, he also gives away the fact that he doesn’t read for his boys at bedtime. What might sound a little curious at first, is actually a conscious parental choice, as Zlatan believes the boys should learn to read themselves.

When bedtime comes, he doesn’t slip into a comfy pair of pajamas (and who can picture Zlatan in pyjamas anyways?!), but sleeps in a t-shirt from his own label A – Z. And while he doesn’t tell us what he jumps into when waking up, we reckon chances are that his wardrobe is full of pieces from the latest A – Z collection, speckled with a few designer garments, and all the best training gear the world has to offer.

Alone in the car, on your way to practice or elsewhere, what do you listen to?
Everything from Yugoslavian music to reggae, hip-hop, house and Swedish hip-hop. Anything goes!

Any hidden musical talent of your own?
No.

Well, his talent on the soccer field certainly makes up for that. Sometimes almost melodic in its own right.

How about a favourite book?
That would be The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Although Paulo Coelho’s fictional universe is a far stretch from Zlatan’s daily soccer routine, the choice still doesn’t come as a such a big surprise. A well-known Coelho quote reads: “Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure”, which is pretty close to the advice Zlatan received from his own father on how best to live his life. And if there’s one thing Zlatan has never been in his career, is filled with the fear of failure.

But still, there’s no doubt the world of soccer and the world of literature are worlds apart, just like some would argue is also the case with soccer and fashion.

A – Z by Zlatan is the footballer’s way of merging the two. The label sports the tagline: “sportswear for everyone and every sport”, meaning the collections are designed for you and me – and not your average high-paid soccer superstars. The pieces are designed to take you on your own journey, from A – Z, no matter your entry level or your ambitions.

The minimalistic design can clearly be viewed as a throwback to Zlatan’s Swedish heritage. But it’s not only the design that hints of a Swedish upbringing, also the philosophy of the brand – and the prices of the collection – can be viewed as a tribute to the social democratic society Zlatan grew up in. A society where you don’t have to have a 400 Euro pair of trainers to become the best in the world.

Although Zlatan’s determination, hard work and mental capabilities are key reasons for his success, one can’t deny there were also the social democratic factors at play. A fact neither Zlatan is blind to, saying the label is a way of helping the next generation on their way. For while expensive gear doesn’t make a great athlete, attitude, commitment and hard work does. So, while Zlatan might have gotten your gear sorted out for you, the rest of the job is your own.

For a homebody like Zlatan, it makes sense that he does a lot of his shopping online. When asked about his favourite store in the world, he answers: “I do a lot of online shopping. Especially in my own store, a-z.com. I don’t follow anyone.”

Who is the fashionista in the family, you or Helena?
It’s Helena.

And while it is clear Zlatan has great admiration and love for his wife, she is not the only person he looks to for inspiration. Zlatan has several times been quoted by the press that Mohammad Ali, is a role model of his, a familiar name he also repeats to us. We think we can understand why, without following up further.

But we still wonder who impresses you, and why?
I like dominant people. My agent, Mino Raiola, impresses me. The way he makes his job look easy, even though it isn’t. Few people impress me, but he does.

And it is certainly understandable that it takes a lot to impress someone like Zlatan Ibrahimović. And for him to name his agent, and not a great footballer or celebrity, says a lot about his nature. About who he is. And although he likes to pass on his father’s advice on living every day to its fullest, the very best advice he ever got was that the advice he gave to himself:

“Whatever happens in life, always stay true to yourself. Never let anyone, or anything, change who you really are!”

5 quick ones with Zlatan:

Eggs, hard- or soft-boiled?
5 minutes.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee

Red or White?
White.

Paris or New York?
Paris.

Messi or Ronaldo?
Somewhere in between.