Widely regarded as one of the world’s best players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has quietly started building quite an empire off the pitch, too. With a successful clothing brand ‘A-Z’ already under his belt, the Manchester United star is adding to his existing line of fragrances with the release of two new scents this May.
To celebrate the launch, we sat down with the most confident man in football to talk success on and off the pitch, style icons and the one player he would have liked to line up alongside (if we take Zlatan out of the equation, of course).
FashionBeans: Why did you want to release a line of fragrances?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: It was a new world, and to be honest I wasn’t initially confident about it. I didn’t think I could make my own fragrance. But it’s like football, it’s like business: when you meet the right team, magic can happen. I met some fantastic people, who presented a new world to me.
This team were so confident that they could do something real with me properly involved, and that they could bring it out in a fragrance that would genuinely be a fantastic, luxury product. So I said OK, let’s try.
We got Olivier [Peschaux, the perfumer behind Paco Rabanne’s blockbuster 1Million as well as for Christian Dior, Diptyque, Balmain, Paul Smith and YSL] on board. I work only with the best. Everything we’ve created so far, I’m proud of.
It feels real for me because every fragrance has its own story that was inspired by me. So it’s not like I put my name on the bottle and then that’s it. I don’t need my name out there on something that is mediocre.
Do you have a complex grooming routine to keep your skin looking great at 35?
God made me the way I am, so I feel good like I am. I don’t have this complex that I need to change things or make myself better. I don’t have time for grooming routines, so I don’t need one. No, I’m good as I am. It’s all natural.
With your clothing and fragrance lines, do you see Brand Zlatan moving in the direction of Brand Beckham?
I don’t think so. I want to make a difference with whatever I do; I am a control freak. I stay behind things personally, only things I feel I can make a difference to. I will never do something I cannot be behind 100 per cent, because it’s not in my nature or my vision.
The fragrance is because I can make a difference to the quality by being involved, ensuring that we are always working with the best and bringing out the real story.
The clothing line is based on my feelings towards exercise and training. I want to show people who aren’t athletes that training is not as difficult as you think it is. That’s why everything I do is multipurpose; I think people believe you need a special T-shirt for running in, a special T-shirt for playing football in. No. You need one decent training shirt for everything, then you just go out and do it. That’s what I mean when I say I want to make a difference. I don’t see myself here just to sell things.
It’s important to me that I stay involved in and behind every project so that it feels real. I’m not here to make money. I have money. It’s no secret. I will survive if none of this works out. But I am taking the challenge and making a difference. That is what motivates me.
What advice would you give to people who look up to you as a success?
Work hard, believe in yourself and never change as a person, whatever happens. Always be the one you were at the beginning. You’ll learn a lot of things on the way, but whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or towards the end, be confident. People are confident in confidence.
As someone who’s so confident, did you use a chat-up line to woo your wife?
If I answer that, I’ll be in serious trouble. There are two different stories; one is where I chased her, and one is where she chased me. We never say which one is true, we say it’s 50:50. Probably though I chased her. But don’t tell her I told you that.
You’ve played alongside some of the greatest players of all time. Is there anyone that you’ve never been able to play alongside that you wished you had?
I have to say, I’ve been lucky enough to play with many great football players. I’ve had the luck to play at probably the best and the greatest and biggest clubs in the world. And the thing is, wherever I came, I did something. I made a difference. I won. I conquered every country I came to. So that for me is something amazing, but at the same time, I had the luck to play with great players, and they had the luck to play with me.
But if I missed any other players to play with, maybe Ronaldo. The Brazilian. For me, he is football. He is the perfect example of how you want to play football.
What’s the key to your fitness routine?
I do martial arts like taekwondo to keep me flexible. I do a lot of kicking; I’m pretty good at doing epic splits. I always liked martial arts, it’s the sort of training that triggers me because I get the adrenaline rush, it gives me something extra. That’s why I still like it today. But I don’t train with it like I did before, but originally, that’s probably where I got the flexibility from, and flexibility is so important when doing sport, even if you are not a professional sportsman.
Who’s your style icon?
My wife is more involved in fashion; I am more simple. I ask her sometimes: ‘Does it fit? Does it work? Does it match or not?’, but really, I want to feel comfortable. If I feel comfortable, then I feel I can go out and not care what anyone says.
I suppose Jose [Mourinho] is elegant. He always was elegant, all through his career. He looks stylish, clean, macho but at the same time elegant. He looks cool. But I’m more casual.
Finally, you once referred to yourself as God. So did Kanye West. If the two of you were to meet – who’s the real one?
There are a lot of kings out there, but there can be only one God. You know who that is.
Zlatan’s new fragrance is available from 10 May at Mankind.co.uk.