Zlatan Ibrahimovic has no regrets about turning down Arsenal trial

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic reveals the thinking behind his decision to turn down a trial at Arsenal back in 2000

zlatan ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was offered a trial at Arsenal in 2000 Photo: L Ochoa/Wikimedia

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed the thinking behind his decision to turn down a trial at Arsenal back in 2000.

The striker, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain, was offered a trial at Highbury as a 16-year-old but opted not to take up the offer.

And in his new book, ‘I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic’, the Sweden international gives his account of how events unfolded with Arsene Wenger.

“I went out to Arsenal’s training facility near St Albans,” said Ibrahimovic. “I saw Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp out on the pitch.

“The really awesome thing was that I was going to meet Arsene Wenger. I felt like a little boy when we stepped into his office.

“I just sat in silence and was bashful, but after a while I lost my patience. Something about Wenger set me off. He would leap up every so often to check who was outside his window. It seemed as if he wanted to keep an eye on everything, and he kept going on about one thing all the time.

“‘You can have a trial with us,’ he said. ‘You can give it a try. You can test things out.’ No matter how much I wanted to behave, those words set me off.

“‘Give me a pair of boots. I’ll have a trial. I’ll do it right now,’ I said. Then Borg (Malmo’s sporting director, Hasse Borg) interrupted me, saying, ‘Stop, stop, we’ll sort this out, you’re not going to have a trial, not at all,’ and of course, I understood what he was getting at: either you’re interested, or you’re not.

“Having a trial puts you in a weak position, so we said no: ‘We’re sorry, Mr Wenger, but we are not interested.’ I’m sure it was the right decision, though.”

Speaking last year, Wenger insisted he had no regrets about not signing the Sweden international.

“He was here at the training ground and went somewhere else,” said Wenger. “That has happened to many players – Cristiano Ronaldo was here, Ibrahimovic was here. It does not mean they sign for you.

“The story is true I wanted to see him. I did not know him, you cannot sign players you have not seen at all because it is not serious.

“He was 16. I asked him to have a little training session with the first team and he didn’t want to do it.

“Do I regret it? No. I will continue to do that unless our scouts have seen the player and says, “look he is absolutely 100 per cent”. I trust them.

“But when somebody says he has some quality, you want at least to see, otherwise you would not be serious.”

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