How Milan’s Van Basten transformed Ibrahimovic at Juventus

by | Jan 22, 2022 21:25

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started his Serie A career with Juventus and it was watching Milan hitman Marco van Basten that set him on the path to becoming the striker he is today.

He will face his former club on Sunday evening at San Siro, though thanks to his experiences at Inter and especially the Rossoneri, few remember the Swede who first landed in Turin on transfer deadline day in 2004.

Juve were not even linked with Ibra, but Luciano Moggi was pulling strings behind the scenes and distracting reporters with other targets while he secured the Ajax hitman.

Fabio Capello was the coach at the time and knew there was a lot of work to be done on this rough diamond.

“He couldn’t shoot!” Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

“His agent Mino Raiola said he was so strong, he’d break the goalkeeper’s hands. I pointed out so far all he’d managed to break was the windows of our gym.”

Capello sat young Ibra down in front of a stack of Marco van Basten videos, and perhaps that started what would become his love for Milan.

The rest was down to the forward’s own determination to improve with hours of practice on his finishing, movement and heading technique.

“Ibrahimovic loved making assists more than scoring goals. I wanted him to become more ruthless in front of goal and improve his finishing,” explained Capello

“He had the same technical skills as Van Basten and I made him watch some videos of him to improve his finishing.

“I told him to watch Van Basten’s movements inside the area and the way he used to score goals. Ibra got it straight away – I think results are out there to prove it.”

He went on to score 26 goals in 92 competitive games for Juventus, along with 19 assists.

Ibrahimovic also showed early flashes of his temper with two red cards, including one just 18 minutes into a Coppa Italia quarter-final against Roma for a brawl with Olivier Dacourt in February 2006.

There were some highlights, like a brace in the 3-3 thriller with Fiorentina or hat-trick to beat Lecce 5-2, but he scored just one goal in his last 11 Serie A appearances for the Old Lady.

When the Calciopoli scandal hit, Ibrahimovic made what Juve fans considered to be the ultimate betrayal, dumping them for their arch-rivals Inter.

He was far more prolific for the Nerazzurri, scoring 66 goals in 117 games, but the spectacular ego was already beginning to make itself felt and he left in a huff for Barcelona, missing out on the Treble campaign.

Ibra returned to Serie A for Milan in 2010 and again lasted only two seasons before the club in serious financial trouble sold him and Thiago Silva to PSG. Of all the clubs he represented in his career, Zlatan will admit Milan have a special place in his heart and he didn’t seem particularly eager to leave San Siro in 2012. It’s why when the Rossoneri came calling again in January 2020, he ran straight back to the Diavolo in need.

If he scores on Sunday, Ibrahimovic will become the oldest ever player to find the net against Juventus in Serie A, aged 40 years and 112 days.

The current record is held by Silvio Piola, who was 39 years and 174 days old in 1953.

2005

1 Comment

  1. Bukruqul

    Ibra creates an unnerving tension within the Interisti. He’s involved in starting a winning cycle of cardboard scudetti while simultaneously being a Juventus thief. Same applies to Conte. Inter‘s (and especially Moratti’s) anger at Juve is that Inter can’t win unless Juve is somehow involved.

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