Zlatan on overcoming injuries — and winning over the haters

This is an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue 2018. Read Sam Borden’s feature on Ibrahimovic’s first weeks in Los Angeles here.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not a modest man, so perhaps it’s not surprising that LA’s newest celebrity decided to pose for the 10th anniversary of the Body Issue. But there’s still plenty for the global soccer icon to open up about. Ibrahimovic sat down with ESPN’s Chris Connelly recently and revealed the details of his brutal knee injury, how he’s adjusting to his new team and that oh-so-memorable debut.

ESPN: You’re here to pose for the Body Issue. So what’s different about you physically from every other footballer?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: When I do something, I do it powerful. Is not about the beauty because everybody can look good. But not everybody is powerful. And I bring that.

You also bring creativity and style. What is the moment like on the pitch when you know you can be creative? What has to happen?
I need to be angry. I need to be very angry. Then I bring out my [moves] that you will not expect … in a good way. And I see things that is difficult to describe. I can see holes in the game that I can use. And then I can see the vision, the second and the third step, what will happen, and I predict those things.

What motivates you?
I find the haters. I make that to give me energy. That is what I had all my career — I had people that didn’t believe in me. I had people who said that I will never make it. They judged me even before I even got a chance. But all that I turn around and I made it a driven power for myself. I was driven to do everything better, never be satisfied. That’s how I kept on, and I still find those holes where I get that energy. But the problem is, I make my haters become fans. So I need to have more haters.

It’s going to be hard to find those haters if you keep going like you have been. [Laughs]
Yeah, but I’ll find them. I’ll make them upset in some way.

Your accuracy is phenomenal on the pitch. In your book [I Am Zlatan, 2001] you talk about a coach [former Real Madrid manager Fabio Capello] who put you right in the penalty box and just fired balls at you over and over again.
Every day. He put me in front of the goal and I made, like, 50 to 100 shots every day. When I say every day, it was every day. And he continued to push me, push me, push me, and at the end he didn’t need to call me. I went there by myself, and I did it because it became my medicine. I needed to repeat it, and I needed to train on it. You train hard, and hard work pays off. And that’s why I hit the target maybe more than normal.

What part of your body do you feel the most confident in, as far as your strength? The whole package. There is no weakness.

Even at 36? That changes things a little bit, right?
No, is perfect. I am like the wine: the older, the better. Age is just a number, it’s all in your head, how strong you are, how young you are and how you prepare yourself. I do a lot of training. I prepare very well and I like it because it drives me. It never makes me satisfied because when I feel good, I want to feel better. I’m a workaholic.

You suffered a catastrophic knee injury [in April 2017], though. What was that like? It was very strange because I never had a major injury. When it happened, I even said to myself, “I’m not injured.” And I tried to walk straight after. There is another player who got injured in the first half — he was carried out. I was walking out because I said I’m not injured. And when I came in, I still said to myself, “I’m not injured, it’s just a small bruise or something.” But something felt different. Then the next day it was swollen, and we did MRI and it showed that everything was off. Then you hear all the comments: It’s all over. He will never come back. He will never be the one he is. So now the haters come out. And all this gives me energy, all those people that are speaking. So I said, “I decide when I stop football. I decide how I will finish this story. I will not end this story by injury. I will walk out the way I want to walk out.” When I walk out, I will feel just like when I began to play, powerful and feeling perfect.

How did you take the mindset that you bring to every match to your rehab?
I trained every day, boring training. But I needed to do it. And I had people around me that believed in me and gave me that extra push. I had my family. I had my agent. I had my physio. We worked every day. And when I signed the extra year with Manchester United [in August 2017], I asked [coach Jose] Mourinho, “Can I do [rehab] from distance? Because if I see the teammates every day, I will go crazy.”

Why?
Because I want to be with them. I am that kind of person. When the coach needs me, I’m there even if my knee is not there or I have a broken leg or something. I will be there for them because that’s how I work. When they need me, I will stand up for them. And I will defend them in every moment. So I asked to keep distance, to do my training isolated. I give a big thanks to United [for letting me do that], to my teammates that was in United, to Coach Mourinho — that gave me that confidence. And I’m here now, and I’m enjoying my football here now.

Will it be hard for you to watch the Swedish national team play without you in the World Cup?
No. In the beginning, the first games was different because I felt I can do it much better than them, obviously. And still I feel that. But there is a time when you say let them do it and let them enjoy because where I came from, I was not welcome. I was different. I came from a different background. And I went through all those things and I became the captain on my national team. I mean, bigger than that it cannot be.

You heard the cheers here in LA with your phenomenal debut. You’re smiling just remembering it. What did it feel like there on the pitch?
It felt amazing because the buildup was amazing. The only wish from Galaxy was please be ready for March 31, and that’s the game against LAFC. Just prepare for that game and be ready and be here. And I say, “Don’t worry, this is my job. Just make my visa so I have it so I can come over.” [Laughs] So everything was ready. I came here. I trained for 20 minutes. I didn’t know anybody. The next day I’m selected for the game. The coach asked me, “Are you sure you can play?” I said, “Just give me some minutes. I’ll show you.” And they were all asking, “How’s your knee?” I say, “We just have to find out how it is.” And we were losing 1-0, so I’m sitting on the bench and was, like, no problem, we can still do this. After 2-0 I look at my left, I said to him, “I don’t know if Zlatan is enough for this.” After 3-0, I say, “Listen, this will be a long season.” And then I heard the crowd shouting, “We want Zlatan.” OK, would they put me in or not? Or they will rest me? I didn’t know anything. So I started to warm up. We did 3-1. OK, now it’s your turn. You go in and then magic happens. So I gave them Zlatan, like I said. They wanted Zlatan, I gave them that.

You’ve heard cheers in every great football cathedral in the world. What was it like to hear those cheers in LA?
It was amazing because when I changed clubs I had a special connection with the supporters. I feel the welcome. I feel the energy. I feel the adrenaline. And I just want to give back. I want to give back as much as possible, and especially to the kids out there because they are the future. And I know they don’t get to see me every day. Like, “You have the luck now to see me here.” So I just want to give back to them as much as possible and by doing what I’m good at, playing football. And that is where the creativity comes in. You want to do something extra. I want to be the example they take after.

By Chris Connelly 

Essayist and Reporter  

 

Home Business – Go Forth and Prosper

With your own home business, you can go forth and prosper no matter what happens on the surface. Unlike a day job where they may eliminate your position, you are not ‘up a creek without a paddle’. With your own business, especially if you have chosen to follow the ‘multiple streams of income’ strategy, you can just choose a new opportunity to replace one that has been lost

Particularly with the ‘affiliate marketing ‘program model you do not need to miss a beat. Everything to get started is provided to you as part of the membership. It would be good though if you had done a little research previously so that you do have some information about your new opportunity.

There is certainly no rush that would make it necessary to go into something without knowing anything about the company, principals, reputation and product. So if you haven’t so far done this, you really should run a few queries at Google.com on possible business opportunities.

Because of the way things are always changing online you should be prepared and well-informed especially about the programs/products you already have and certainly before you take action to add another business opportunity.

There are some pretty strange situations that may arise and which may impact you. You need to ‘watch’ to see something coming down before it reaches crisis proportions (especially if you have money you need to recover if the company tanks).

Be sure to read the details – the real story and not just rumors and innuendos. In almost every case it is not the program or principal who has caused the trouble. Seriously, they are usually paying as agreed and both the program and the members are doing great.

Honestly in 99.9% of the problems it is a 3rd party that is the cause of the problem. It can even be the government or bank that confiscates the funds while they ‘investigate’ their accusations (and usually nobody ever sees their money as it is spent on legal fees, court costs, etc.)

Recently a very good company has imploded and then additionally been the victim of multiple scams to ‘straighten’ the issues out for them. Really sad what bottom-feeders will do even to people already being victimized (the company and members).

So the point is don’t rush to judgement, but do pay attention and try to get out with your assets if you can, ASAP. You are not the captain in this case, so no reason for members to go down with the ship although many times there is nothing anybody can do to avoid it.

What Is Residual Income And Why Do You Want It

 

You have probably heard the expression that “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.” It’s often used to explain the unfairness when it comes to money.

However I don’t think this is unfair at all. The reason it happens is because the rich focus on a completely different way of earning money. There are thousands of stories about poor people who accumulated great riches and this choice is available to all of us.

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Oprah were not born into riches. Yet over their lifetimes they’ve amassed huge personal fortunes. This is because they understand and use the power of leverage through residual income like we’ll talk about today.

What Is Active Income?

Active income comes as a direct result of our efforts. This is when we work for one hour and get paid a certain amount for that hours work. This can be seen in wages, salaries, and self-employed service providers like lawyers or doctors.

There are many people who get paid vast amounts of money to become the CEO of a company, play professional sports, or star in a movie. Earning a high active income is often a lot of hard work and requires a dedication beyond most of us. It’s also limited because no matter how much money you get paid you still need to show up to work to earn your money.

What Is Residual (Or Passive) Income?

Residual income is when you continue to get paid after the work is done. This includes royalties from books, movies, or songs and also income that comes from real estate or business investments where you don’t actually have to be present to earn it. For example, Bill Gates is still making a residual income from Microsoft even though he isn’t working there anymore.

Residual income comes from building an asset that continues to pay you after the work has been done. A book, movie or song is an asset to the people earning royalties from it. A house is an asset to the landlord being paid rent and a business is an asset to the business owner who does not need to be involved in the day-to-day activities anymore.

The Passive Income Myth

Many people talk about passive income and create the impression that you never have to do anything to keep that income going. The truth is that you will normally have to keep your eye on things if you want it to run smoothly. For example Richard Branson doesn’t run any of the 400+ companies he started but he goes over the numbers each day to make sure they’re performing well and calls the CEO if there are any problems.

There is also an idea that we should work to build a passive income asset and then sit on the beach relaxing for the rest of our lives. The truth is that most people would get extremely bored with this scenario and will be eager to find something to do. That’s why the world’s billionaires continue to work… they love what they do and it stopped being about the money a long time ago.

How To Build Residual Or Passive Income

The key idea here is leverage. You must be able to leverage other people’s time or other people’s money in order to create a residual income. Richard Branson can run 400+ companies because he isn’t actually running any of them at all. His CEOs are.

To create residual income, you need to create something that people will continue to buy on a regular basis long after you’ve created it. A house is a prime example of this as people will continue to pay rent for the right to live in the house. A business needs to have products that are sold over and over again rather than trading the business owner’s time for money.

The products might be an item that has been created and can be duplicated or it might be the time of other people. For example, a dentist can only make so much income trading their time for money but when they bring on other dentists they will start to leverage their results to build residual income.

The First Steps To Creating Residual Income

The first thing is to be aware of how you work for active or residual income. Then you want to decide a path that transitions from active to residual income over time. It’s hard to start a new business and create residual income tomorrow so you have to have some patience.

As you make more residual income you can start to scale back the hours you put into active income. This will mean your residual income will grow even faster once you pay it more attention.

As Jim Rohn was famous for saying:

“I’m working full-time on my job and part time on my fortune. But it won’t be long before I’m working full-time on my fortune. Can you imagine what my life will look like?”

Home Biz Entrepreneur – Use Your Head

Mainly in that it is easier to learn with ‘hands on’ strategy for most people, you need to start thinking for yourself. Unless you are not given any instructions you shouldn’t automatically contact support to have them do things for you. What do you learn by having someone else do something? Nothing.

In most cases support won’t do something for you that they know there are instructions for and that you can do yourself. There is no excuse here like ‘I can’t’. There is no can’t. If you want something then you need to learn about it and be able to do it going forward.

If you have the money to pay for technical support that is up to you – however again, you won’t learn anything and you will always need help. That is not the real idea of having your own home business where you are the boss and know how your business actually works. If you can afford to pay for support maybe they will be kind enough to give you the instructions so you can try it on your own.

With affiliate programs for example the support and everything you need to start is free. Some would realize this is really fortunate and that the opportunity deserves your undivided attention. Many others will adopt an ‘entitlement’ mindset and expect more and more free services.

How much would you/could you do free? Not much because time is money and if you are spending all your time giving free support you likely will not have sufficient time for your own critical money-making options. So be logical – do not expect people to run your business for you.

The entitlement people do not think in terms of imposing on anyone since the only importance to them is getting what they feel is their due. It must be sad and lonely in that state of mind where nobody else really counts and we can’t lift a finger even to help ourselves.

Don’t even get started on ‘freebie seekers’ – they are cousins of the entitlement clan. They can only participate if something is free. No matter how much they have received

free, the minute they see even an optional charge they are done. They never imagine how a program that gives so much away for free to help people get started, may need support themselves.

As such they may need to create a fee structure where there is some chance (usually optional) to receive help to run the company by selling services, etc. Be realistic. There is no sin here. Where do you suppose they get the money to run their program? The tooth fairy?

Home Business Issues – Would You Knowingly Do Business With a Flake?

 

Seriously if you had advance knowledge that one of your peers or vendors had credibility issues would you proceed to do business with them? By credibility there are degrees that range from just not being on time for deadlines to more serious issues like not paying debts or repeatedly not delivering on promises

Note that word ‘repeatedly’ – stuff does happen once in a while. We are all human and things can transpire that are actually beyond our control. So don’t make snap judgments – cut people some slack. However if it becomes a pattern where there are frequently issues that are inconvenient to you, then you should really start reconsidering your decision to work with this person or company.

Remember the saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’. Even if you are reasonably straight in your business transactions, if you associate with people who have credibility issues you may be considered as one in the same. People may wonder if they can trust you either.

Again it can happen to anyone that we join a program that tanks or worse has some legal issues that end up costing people. If nothing else, the fact that this can happen to perfectly innocent people should tell us that we need to do some research before we join a program. We should also keep checking periodically for any indications that there may be trouble coming.

You know the saying ‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is’. Really apply some logic and read up on the various infamous scams. Ask yourself – does this sound like that? If yes, you probably don’t want to get involved. Do consider however, that a small detail may make it different, so you should ask the company directly if you have any doubt either way.

Not saying believe every rumor but you as an intelligent adult should be able to tell the difference between some wild rumor and several comments or reviews which seem to be pointing to the same direction. You can choose to hang in there and see what actually happens, and risk losing a little money on the opportunity should it be the worst case scenario; or you can take your money and go before it comes down to that.

Working at Home – Escape from Your Computer

 

All dedicated computer users probably understand what it is like to be really engrossed in whatever computer activity we might be involved in and unable or unwilling to stop even momentarily. However it is important to understand how seriously unhealthy it is not to get up regularly to rest the pressure that is being put on your entire skeletal system.

You really need to get your circulation going by moving around. This can take the form of short walks around your house, or some type of stretching exercise. It doesn’t have to be longer than a few minutes every hour or two but should definitely not be ignored.

At the same time you should be aware that your eyes need to rest as well. There is one exercise that involves looking at something as far away as possible (out a window for example). Focus on that for a few minutes. Your eyes will not be stuck at whatever distance is between you and your computer monitor. You can also alternate this with just closing your eyes for a few minutes to rest them.

None of these suggestions are remotely close to ‘slacking’ – they are necessary to maintain your good health. Look at it like if you were in too much back pain to work. Your neck is stiff, your lower back is painful, and you are not able to stand it after a while and must take time off to recuperate. This represents lost productivity and consequently income in addition to ruining your health.

If you do abuse your spine, one thing that is very effective and much healthier than pain pills or even OTC pain remedies is to get an ice pack – Ideally one of those that usually has a blue gel and is reusable indefinitely. It lives in your freezer and you take it out and use it for not more than 20-minutes on the same spot off and on.

Three more tips you should be aware of to alleviate some of the strain on your lower back that comes from too much sitting, etc., are as follows:

#1 Employ some sort of a footstool (a phone book works). You will feel right away how you are more comfortable not straining;

#2 Be sure that your computer keyboard and mouse are exactly in a straight line with your hands. This means no reaching up or down and straining your wrist and neck;

#3 Your monitor should be exactly at eye level – again this is no straining to look up or down. It should naturally be straight ahead.

If you want further information – just Google ‘ergonomics’.

Does Extra Money Sound Like a Good Thing?

To most people it would. There always seems to be something extra we need. If we are living paycheck to paycheck then there are likely things we cannot afford to buy and we just have to learn to live without them.

Then again, why should we have to? There are a number of things you can do to create more income just working at it part-time from home. Of course there are other options such as a part-time job but this is really gnarly. You must rush from one job to the next considering your commute time and start and end time for both positions.

You may end up eating dinner in your car as you drive from one job to the other. Once again you were not able to see your family as by the time you get home they will be sleeping. Obviously if you think about having a part-time home business to earn extra money, it is a whole lot more pleasant and relaxed than the above scenario.

You can take your time coming home from your day job and settling in. You can visit with your family and have a nice relaxing dinner. Whenever you are ready, you can go and boot up your computer. You can now focus on developing your source of extra income, your part-time home business. It is up to you if you have the energy to put in several hours or just more or less check in and make sure everything is running right.

There are many things you can do online to earn money. Easiest and fastest would be joining an affiliate program where they supply everything you need to get set up and running. All you have to do is marketing and advertising online to promote the business and eventually earn commissions.

There are also other things you can do that also involve advertising – for example becoming a reseller for a product where the company does ‘drop-shipping’ straight from your order to the customer.

Other examples are providing a service for other home businesses – maybe technical, maybe office services. There are lots of ideas for you to consider that cost very little to implement.

 

Working At Home – What More Could You Do?

 

If you are fortunate enough to work from home either part or full time, you have a lot more time on your hands than you may realize. When you work outside the home the usual time span for work is 8-hours. You may also include an hour for commute time and another for lunch.

So you have this small window where you need to get everything done or you start to fall behind or are not meeting deadlines. This creates a special stress that is in addition to all the other time constraints you have to meet. However when you work at home it is not as limited.

You actually have 24-hours in a day and right off the top you can see where that is 3 times as much time as you have to get things done if you have a job. It is not only that you can take advantage of all the hours in a day, but you can use those hours in any way you feel most comfortable.

For example, if on Monday you want to go shopping and out to lunch, you can do your work when you get back. Then on Tuesday you want to dig in and get your work done first thing. So you work for 4-hours and then get ready to head out to the gym. When you get back maybe you do some more work or not.

The point is you can both meet deadlines and be flexible. You can be comfortable. This type of environment is what stimulates creativity and productivity. If you enjoy what you are doing, it makes life so much more fun. Of course if you have a family you can probably see where you would have more time to spend with them.

If you sit down right now and make a tentative schedule for the next week, you will see all the free time you have to fill in with both work and play, You may remember the song from the 60’s where they say ‘relax and float downstream’. You can do that!

Work at Home – Always Be Early or On Time

Especially if you are taking your home business seriously, you will want to be proactive. If you really expect to earn an income online you will need to be engaged in your business. Once you get your website or affiliate link online, that is not all there is to it.

On ‘Autopilot’ does not mean there is nothing to do. You should implement as many things as you can to promote your business. What is true about autopilot is that you do not have to be online to make a sale.

The affiliate programs will handle your transactions and will give you a report of your commissions earned. Technically you can make sales 24-hours a day because your links and advertising are always running on the world-wide-web (globally).

So once you get everything set up you just need to check to be sure here are no system errors that are preventing your site(s) to display. You also need your hosting account to be running and that your domain name registration is current. (website)

It is also important that you check your reports at the affiliate programs to be sure that there are no problems with members or payments either to you or to your customers. It may be critical because people will just quit the program if they don’t understand something, or they may decide not to join in the first place.

If you know you have things you need to do, try not to wait for the deadline. If you can accomplish some tasks in the meantime this would always be best. Stay ahead of the game.

You do not know in the near future that you will encounter obstacles that you need to resolve before you can move forward. If you have to rush everything it is an environment where errors are more likely to occur as a result.

Really the bottom line is that you like having a home business and you may even enjoy doing all the necessary procedures. This will be a lot more possible if you take an organized approach. You may find that in the spare time you created by being proactive, that you may now expand your portfolio of opportunities. You have time.

Do You Have Performance Goals for Your Home Business?

It would be a real good idea to conduct a self-audit to see how you stack up in providing customer service for your members and prospects. You can actually keep a running total if you will remember to keep it up. Then your audit would only consist of calculating your results

You could list every time a customer has to remind you that you haven’t done something you promised; when you are late with fulfilling an obligation; when you don’t show up for a conference and any other time you have told the customer you would. You can see that the customer shouldn’t have to remind you that you are not really engaged.

You could actually have ‘target goals’ where you try to have less instances where the customer is impacted by something you didn’t remember or bother to do that they are expecting. This happens even where someone has paid for something and it is not received until they have to remind the business owner that he/she owes them. Pretty scandalous.

Of course this can be an opportunity to actually make points with the customer if the problem is handled in the right way. (The right way being fast, complete and not again). Of course this doesn’t work after a while if you keep repeating the same bad behavior. So the idea is to keep track of everything so that you can try to focus some extra effort to provide decent customer service to your members and customers.

The other area that people sometimes don’t seem to think reflect on their credibility is software that month after month doesn’t perform correctly. At first there are excuses and promises to fix it but then it just can become a given – the software doesn’t work, live with it (or not). While the member may not leave due to this, it has to cause them to wonder why you would allow the inconvenience and surely must begin to feel like they don’t really matter to you.