Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Jimmy Kimmel show: 'A World Cup without me wouldn't be a World Cup'

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Since Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived in Los Angeles, he hasn’t just been scoring wondergoals and game-winners for the LA Galaxy. He’s been making the rounds, and checking off a remarkable amount of items on the Los Angeles celebrity bucket list. He’s attended other sporting events and intermingled with stars. There’s already a full gallery of him in Getty Images’ library under the title “Celebrity Sightings in Los Angeles.”

Next up on the list was Jimmy Kimmel Live. Zlatan appeared on the late-night talk show on Tuesday, and didn’t break from character in an interview full of laughs:

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Between the laughs, though, Zlatan dropped another World Cup hint. “I’m going to the World Cup, yes,” he said when Kimmel asked about his participation in Russia this summer.

He chose his words carefully, though, and the smile that accompanied them accentuated the cleverness of the word choice. He didn’t say he’d be playing at the World Cup. Just that he’d be going. (Ibrahimovic was announced as the face of Visa’s World Cup marketing campaign on Tuesday.)

He responded to a follow-up by saying: “I just said I’m going to the World Cup. If I say more, people will hang me. So I have to be careful what I say now.”

And then he elicited cheers from the audience when he said: “A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup.”

Which is quite the comment, since the last two men’s World Cups were, in fact, World Cups without Zlatan. He and Sweden hadn’t qualified since 2006. He’s he’s Zlatan, so he can get away with saying it.

(Photo: Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Twitter)
(Photo: Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Twitter)

Among the other highlights of the interview …

Ibrahimovic apologized to fans of other sports for choosing soccer instead of them.

He said of his new home: “It’s been a couple of years I’ve had my eyes on Los Angeles. And I wanted to give them a gift. I was thinking a long time. And then one day it came: I should give myself.”

And of his two-goal debut: “I know there are some earthquakes in Los Angeles. This one was me stepping in Los Angeles.”

When asked by Kimmel if he was worried that his teammates would be offended by all the attention he gets, he said, “I make them superstars just like a make you.”

He also said his fame was his “own fault.”

Kimmel opened the interview with Zlatan’s full-page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times announcing his arrival. So Zlatan followed it up with a similar message to Kimmel on Twitter:

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

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