When Danny Welbeck converted Ashley Young's cross into
And he knows that, of course.
There are myriad quotes -- some of the more recent ones have been curated here -- from Ibra himself and his (super) agent Mino Raiola evincing the big man's sense of his own worth. They are amusing, often, but are partly to blame for the English media's (ludicrous) presentation of the Paris St Germain striker as a flat track bully. Those quotes, and the perception they promote, though, are a distraction. Others, from his international manager Erik Hamren -- "We have a world star", and opponents -- "His performance tonight was simply world class" (Steven Gerrard) -- give a better perspective of his standing. The last player to score a hat-trick against
When we talk about Zlatan then, unlike when we talk about Welbeck, the numbers can only take us so far. He exists, like all truly great players, on a plane of his own, which makes him difficult to talk about. What can we say beyond, look at that goal; isn't it amazing? It's hard. But, fortunately, smarter (and madder) people than me have tackled this problem before.
Friedrich Nietzsche called the higher type of person, the Ubermensch -- which translates as Over Men or Higher Mennot, sadly, Super Men. Nietszche named a few -- Goethe, Beethoven and, sometimes, himself -- and defined them in terms of their infinite creativity: "the men of great creativity [are] the really great men according to my understanding" (The Will to Power 957). The value of such a man does not, Nietzsche writes, "reside in his utility"; he is, rather, "the pinnacle of the whole species of man: so high, so superior, that everything would perish from envy of him" (WP 877). It sounds appropriate, doesn't it? The timbre of the vocabulary is certainly Ibra-esque.
Ibrahimovic has, it seems, "the will to power" so venerated by Nietzsche. And this, via Nietzsche's controversial moral philosophy, provides us with a context in which Ibrahimovic's greatness can be meaningfully discussed. Easy to misinterpret, Nietzsche's moral/political philosophy basically teaches that some men are better than us -- Ibra, you sense, would agree -- and that it is our duty to allow them to flourish. This sounds odd: like an apologist's defense for the primacy of society's one percent. But in football, and with Ibrahimovic, it makes sense.
Nietzsche's point is that by creating an environment in which our superiors flourish we all benefit; by helping the over-men to rise we, clinging to their bootstraps, rise too. We can see that with