New Delhi: No European team has won a World Cup across the Atlantic and the trend is expected to continue in the upcoming extravaganza, according to iconic Swedish striker Zlatan Ibramohivic, who is backing Brazil to lift a record sixth world title and their first at home.
The widely-travelled Ibrahimovic is currently plying his trade at top French club Paris Saint-Germain, which is set to start an academy in India.
“Many good European nations will find it difficult to adjust because of weather conditions and there are also many small factors. I think Brazil is the favourites to win it,” the former Juventus and Barcelona striker told PTI during an interaction today.
Perhaps the best strikers to be missing out on FIFA’s showpiece event, thanks to Sweden’s heartbreaking loss to Portugal in the play-offs late last year, Ibrahimovic said the phase post that was very difficult.
“That was a very difficult time not playing the World Cup. We have always wanted to be there. We gave our best and but didn’t make it. We have done everything, trained very hard. We will become stronger and I will follow them (his compatriots) during the World Cup.”
Ibrahimovic might not been seen in action during the World Cup but thanks to a host of former Brazil stars such as Ronaldo, Bebeto and Rai joining forces to invite the striker to their country, the Swede could make a visit.
“I want to thank everybody for this (‘come ibra’) campaign, it’s a big honour for me,” he said.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are at the top of his list when it comes to the best players of the world, but Ibrahimovic said the forthcoming mega event can become the basis to judge who actually is the numero uno.
“There are many players keeping the same level and of course you have to name Messi, Ronaldo. The answer can also depend on who would be having the best tournament (in Brazil).”
PSG, apparently, get the lion’s share of French football’s TV revenue due to Ibrahimovic’s presence in the side but he prefers to be modest about it.
“I think the whole project is very important. One or two people can’t do it. All the persons come together… this is only the start and where it would finish I don’t know. But everybody would reach their dreams one day.”
Playing some of his best football, the 33-year-old has no intention of calling it quits, and aims to add a few more trophies to his already inflated cupboard before bringing end his glorious career.
“I have another two-year contract with PSG and after that I might play in some other countries. Every league has its own quality and own philosophy, I have learnt from every competition and I am very very happy that I have won 22 collective trophies though the Champions League is missing.
“But with the career I have had so far, I will be happy even if I stop tomorrow, but the thing is I won’t stop because I want to win a few more trophies,” Ibrahimovic said.
Talking about PSG, he said the French club is seeking to be the best in Europe but need time to match the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United as it is not as old as the other giants of European club football.
Recalling his childhood days Ibrahimovic said, “In my neighbourhood there were lots of fields but possibilities were few. So I played football on the streets, on the gardens… that’s how everything began and I took it further by joing a club, learnt from my friends.”
He said his partner Helena Seger have a huge influence on his life.
“She has a lot of patience, we have been together now for 10 years. For every strong man, you need a strong woman. She is a very strong woman and takes care of my family and everything else while I focus on football.”
Talking about his duel with Ronaldo during the play-offs, he said, “When two teams play the focus is on the teams. Ronaldo did what he could and I did what I could. At the end of day his team proved to be much stronger than mine.”
Ibrahimovic, when asked, said his expertise in martial arts, at times, helps in scoring goals.
“People ask me this question, I would say yes because of my flexibility, but I really don’t know how much. That’s the way I play my game.”