Zlatan Ibrahimovic has claimed the prospect of featuring in big games is what triggers him at Manchester United.
The big Swede was recently handed the Eurosport Player of the Year award after netting four goals in his first month at Man United, helping Jose Mourinho’s side to a 100% start to the season.
He has dominated big games in places like Spain, France, Holland and Italy throughout his career, but is yet to experience the fiery nature of a Manchester derby.
Speaking ahead of the battle with Pep Guardiola and Co this Saturday, the 34-year-old made it clear that games of such magnitude serve as his main source of motivation.
“For me, the big games are the ones that trigger you. They’re the games everyone speaks about,” he explained.
“I have played in many derby games, I’ve played in the El Clasico, the Inter/Milan derby, Ajax and Feyenoord which was the big one there [in Holland] and PSG/Marseille.
“I have played in all of them, the only one I missed was this one. This is coming on Saturday and I am very well prepared, confident and focused, and there is a lot of hard work behind that. We are prepared and we are ready. We just wait for the game now.”
“For me, I’ve been through it and I know how it is. We are ready. Everyone came back from the national team break and we are back in action. The team is focused.”
One can’t help but feel that Zlatan was made for games of such astronomical importance. The Swede’s career has been defined by big moments, big goals and big performances on a globally scrutinised stage. Some players shrink; Zlatan doubles in stature.
He exudes an aura of confidence and power, a warrior-like determination to take games like the derby and make it strictly ‘Zlatan’s derby’. A reunion with Guardiola – a man Ibrahimovic has publicly chastised, pointing out his duplicity and disrespect – only serves to heighten the anticipation and the Swede’s manic desire to batter Manchester City’s defence into submission.
A fired up Ibrahimovic is a dangerous thing. And with the derby just a day away, all I can say is: prepare for fireworks. Lots of them.