Jamie Carragher has hailed the impact Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made at Manchester United – and has recalled his experiences of facing the player and how he once humiliated Stephane Henchoz.
The towering Swede is expected to be fit to return for United’s clash with Liverpool on Sunday after missing out against Hull in midweek due to illness.
Having scored 18 goals in 28 appearances for Manchester United so far this season, Carragher knows the player is the clearest danger to Jurgen Klopp’s side in Sunday’s encounter.
And writing in the Daily Mail, Carragher has explained just how highly he rates the Swede and his first encounter with him….
‘It was the summer of 2001. Liverpool were still glowing with the success of completing a Cup treble the previous season and our preparations for a first assault on the Champions League took us to Amsterdam. It was here I first entered the world belonging to Zlatan.
‘The Amsterdam tournament was a series of prestigious friendlies and one of our games was against Ajax, who had signed a Swedish striker from Malmo.
‘Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s reputation was growing around Europe. This was my first chance to see him and I wondered why there was such a fuss. He ended up doing something that night I’d never seen on a pitch before. None of us had.
‘Stephane Henchoz was the unfortunate one to be on the receiving end. Ibrahimovic rolled his foot over the ball, feinted one way then darted the other and left Stephane utterly bamboozled.
‘In the dressing room afterwards, we asked Stephane what had happened.
‘I don’t know,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘I honestly don’t know. The ball was there… then it was gone!’
‘Zlatan, however, had his own inimitable view on the incident.
‘I went left and he went left,’ he explained. ‘Then I went right and he went right. Then I went left again — and he went for a hot dog!’
‘It was one of those quotes that typified him. Big, bold and memorable. It was an incredible piece of skill and I came away thinking he was a good player.’