Zlatan ‘would die’ for Chelsea boss Mourinho, Wenger made him feel like a boy at Arsenal
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said he would be prepared to die for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who managed him at Inter Milan.
But he says he rejected the chance to join Arsenal as a 20-year-old because Arsene Wenger made him feel like a boy.
Writing in his autobiography, the PSG striker said: “Jose Mourinho is a big star. He’d been my manager at Inter. He’s nice. The first time he met my partner Helena, he whispered to her: ‘Helena, you have only one mission: feed Zlatan, let him sleep, keep him happy.’ That guy says whatever he wants. I like him. He’s the leader of his army. But he cares, too. He would text me all the time at Inter, wondering how I was doing. He’s the exact opposite of Pep Guardiola.
“If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains. I guessed that Guardiola was trying to match up to him.
“Mourinho would become a guy I was basically willing to die for.”
But he was not so glowing about Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who had the sheer audacity to offer him a trial ahead of possible move from Malmo.
Ibra writes: “I went out to Arsenal’s training facility near St Albans.
“I saw Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp out on the pitch. The really awesome thing was that I was going to meet Arsene Wenger. I felt like a little boy when we stepped into his office.
“I shivered a bit under Wenger’s gaze. It was like he was trying to see through me, or size me up. He’s a man who draws up psychological profiles of his players — are they emotionally stable? That sort of stuff. He is thorough, like all great coaches, and I didn’t say much at first.
“I just sat in silence and was bashful, but after a while I lost my patience. Something about Wenger set me off. He would leap up every so often to check who was outside his window. It seemed as if he wanted to keep an eye on everything, and he kept going on about one thing all the time.
“‘You can have a trial with us,’ he said. ‘You can give it a try. You can test things out.’ No matter how much I wanted to behave, those words set me off.
“‘Give me a pair of boots. I’ll have a trial. I’ll do it right now,’ I said. Then Borg (Malmo’s sporting director, Hasse Borg) interrupted me, saying, ‘Stop, stop, we’ll sort this out, you’re not going to have a trial, not at all,’ and of course, I understood what he was getting at: either you’re interested, or you’re not.
Having a trial puts you in a weak position, so we said no: ‘We’re sorry, Mr Wenger, but we are not interested.’ I’m sure it was the right decision, though.”