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Wenger tried to sign Ibrahimovic for Arsenal

Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photo credit: Joe Giddens/EMPICS Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photo credit: Joe Giddens/EMPICS

Friday, November 16, 2012
8:05 AM

Arsene Wenger hailed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s wonder goal against England - and claimed he once tried to sign the Sweden striker.

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Ibrahimovic scored all four of Sweden’s goals in their 4-2 win over England in Stockholm, but it was his stunning fourth - a 25-yard overhead kick - which has dominated discussion since the moment it hit the net.

While Wenger might preach team play over individual brilliance, he could only marvel at Ibrahimovic’s strike.

“I believe we are all amazed because, sometimes, when a guy has a shot from 30 yards and puts it in the top corner, you say ‘it’s a fantastic goal’ - but somehow you believe you can do that as well, even if you cannot do it on a consistent level,” he told the club’s website.

“But when he scores a goal like that, you think it’s impossible for a normal athlete. You have to be an exceptional athlete to do that.

“They say he’s a master in kung fu. You could see that on Wednesday night. You need some special flexibility, subtleness and physical strength to do that, apart from the fact that you have to realise what you have to do.

“When [England goalkeeper] Hart headed the ball, he took a distance to eventually get the ball. There’s intelligence included as well. I’m an admirer of collective goals, but as an individual achievement, just you and the ball in the situation of the game, it is something exceptional.”

Wenger, who has long had a reputation for spotting talent at a young age, claimed he had been tracking Ibrahimovic when he was 16 but was never able to complete a deal.

“He came here to visit the training ground,” Wenger added. “He didn’t want to make a trial because he was 16 years old at the time. He went home and we concluded to watch him again.

“I wanted to see him in training but it didn’t stop him from making a great career. In the end, he chose to go to Ajax Amsterdam. That happens. He’s not the only one in that case.

“The confidence he shows... if a performance isn’t there you can say you don’t agree with it, but when a performance is there, you think his confidence is justified. Through his career, he has justified why he believes in his own talent.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.