After the final of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009, FIFA.com spoke exclusively to Barcelona superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic about winning trophies, scoring goals and being coached by Pep Guardiola. The Swedish marksman insisted his hunger for silverware was a long way from being satisfied, and also revealed what it is really like to work alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta on a day-to-day basis.
FIFA.com: Zlatan, Barcelona have made history tonight by winning a sixth major trophy in the space of a year. How does that feel?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: It’s just fantastic. I’ve only been part of the team for half that time, but I’ve played a part in winning three of the six trophies. It’s hard to believe, but we really have made history today. Barcelona usually have something to celebrate every year, but 2009 has been extraordinary. We’ve won everything there is to win and that’s terrific.
You’ve only just come off the field, but how would you assess tonight’s match?
It was a great team display. It was hard work, which is just what I expected. We were a goal down but never stopped trying to impose ourselves on the match, although Estudiantes were aggressive and disrupted our build-up play. We created a handful of half-chances, but no really clear-cut openings. Estudiantes were more and more tired in the second half, but we were patient and stuck to our tactics. Pedro scored a fantastic goal in the last minute, and then Lionel (Messi) scored an exceptional goal to settle it in extra time.
Barcelona had to come from behind in the semi-final as well. How do you deal with that situation?
Yes, it was just like the semi, when we also went a goal behind. We needed patience then too, we had to make chances and score goals. It took a bit longer today – right until the last minute in fact. But we scored the goal we needed. We kept on attacking after the goal and never thought about playing for penalties, although I reckon that’s what our opponents were looking for. We were determined to win, and we worked hard for the victory.
You’ve swept the board in 2009, so what can Barcelona fans expect in the future?
One of the reasons I came to Barcelona was my desire to win trophies. It’s gone well so far. We want to keep on making history. We’ve won the lot, and hopefully that’ll continue into the future. We have a short break now and can take it easy for a time. Personally, I’m hungry for more. I’ve yet to win the Spanish championship, the cup and the Champions League, which is an additional motivating factor for me, and hopefully for the rest of the team too. We’re obviously overjoyed today, and I hope we maintain our will to win, no matter what competition we’re in. The good thing is that we’re a young team. I believe in each and every individual player.
You’re part of a truly star-studded team. What’s it like dealing with Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and company on a daily basis?
It feels just fantastic. We learn a huge amount from each other, and we all help each other too. We try and improve a little bit every single day. You ought to come and watch us train once. I reckon our training sessions are harder than matches sometimes, to be honest. We have so much quality, and the coach is a man with a plan. Every day, we try and turn his ideas into reality.
After the final whistle, Pep Guardiola just stood there on the pitch and cried. Tell us more about your coach, what kind of man is he?
I can’t really say what was going through the boss’s mind just then. You can’t describe how it feels unless you’ve won all these trophies. He just let it all come out after the match. He’s only been Barcelona coach for a couple of years, but he’s won everything and he’s only just starting out on his coaching career. He’s made history tonight, he’s full of energy, he’s a very active guy, and I think he’s also hungry for more trophies.
Your team-mate Lionel Messi has been named Player of the Tournament. How would you rate his performance here in the UAE?
I think he’s had a terrific tournament, but then again, he always does. The whole team’s put in great work. You can go a long way as a talented individual, but you get further as a team. That’s my take on it. He was fantastic, but the rest of us did very well too.