Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed that he told Eric Cantona he’d be the “god of Manchester” after being warned by the Manchester United legend that he’d never replace him as “king”.
Ibrahimovic joined United on a free transfer following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain in 2016, reuniting with former Inter boss Jose Mourinho, who he had previously played under at San Siro in 2008-09.
The Swede quickly became a cult figure at Old Trafford as he helped the Red Devils win a domestic treble in his first season at the club, after initially telling Cantona that he was aiming to surpass the Frenchman’s own stellar legacy.
Cantona is widely regarded as one of the finest players in United’s history, having inspired their run to four Premier League titles in five seasons between 1992 and 1997, but Ibrahimovic has now revealed that he rejected the suggestion he would have to play in his shadow.
The 40-year-old, who is currently taking in a second spell at AC Milan, told Italian broadcaster Le lene while out celebrating his birthday at the weekend: “One day Cantona said to me: ‘You cannot be the king of Manchester, you will have to be content with being the prince’.
“And I replied: ‘But I’m not interested in becoming king, I want to be the god of Manchester’.”
Cantona scored 82 goals in 185 appearances for the Red Devils in total, winning nine trophies, while also picking up the 1993-94 PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
Ibrahimovic, meanwhile only spent two seasons at Old Trafford, the second of which was disrupted by a serious knee injury, but he managed to record 29 goals in 53 appearances while securing Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield honours.
Ibrahimovic rejoined Milan in January 2020 after a successful stint in MLS with the LA Galaxy, and has since played a key role in helping the Rossoneri emerge as a major force in both Serie A.
The veteran forward is currently out of action with an Achilles issue, but is optimistic that he will return to the pitch soon after the international break.
“Yes, it is better, only small problems but they are solved,” Ibrahimovic said when quizzed on his fitness. “I feel young, another year has passed and I’m just waiting to get back on the pitch.”
Pressed on Milan’s chances of winning Serie A this term, he added: “Who wins the Scudetto? What team does Zlatan play for… Milan? Then Milan.”