Such is Zlatan Ibrahimovic's personality - wildly arrogant, supremely self-confident and perceptibly individualistic - that he has earned himself a few enemies as well friends during his illustrious career.
While many respect and admire the decorated striker - who has impressed in his first season in England by scoring 16 goals in all competitions for Manchester United - there are those who he doesn't see eye-to-eye with. One of those men is his former Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart.
During an international match between Sweden and Holland, Ibrahimovic found himself in possession on the edge of the penalty area with no fewer than four Dutchmen on him, one of which was Van der Vaart. The Swedish striker powered through the challenges, but the sequence of play left Van der Vaart in a heap on the floor, crying out in agony. He had torn ankle ligaments.
While Ibrahimovic didn't think much of it, Van der Vaart was adamant that he had deliberately tried to hurt him during his post-match interviews. Naturally, Zlatan took exception to such comments and wasn't prepared to simply let it slide. As former Ajax coach and general manager David Endt told FourFourTwo, the pair had a fiery clash involving a particularly head-turning threat from Ibrahimovic.
“There was a meeting in which everybody gave their opinion,” said Endt. “It was, more or less, Zlatan against everyone else. He waited until last, then he stood up and said to Rafael: ‘If you go to the press again, I’ll break both of your legs and cut off your f**king head.’
“The dressing room respected him for doing that. He wouldn’t give in easily, even if the whole world was against him. He would show his real character. It was a little awkward, yes, but it was also a great indication of Ibrahimovic’s mindset at the time. He will always believe in himself and he will never, ever give in.”
As a result of a breakdown in relationship between club and player, Zlatan was sold to Juventus in 2004 and went on to win the Serie A title in his first season as the Bianconeri's top-scorer.
Zlatan: "If they had given me Ballon d'Or any year, I'd go to Messi the next day and give it to him." pic.twitter.com/S0CXjUerdY— Barca Galaxy (@barcagalaxy) January 27, 2017