Nicola Legrottaglie has offered an insight into Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s winning mentality, insisting the striker would assure his team-mates that they would win as long as they were playing alongside him.
Ibrahimovic has enjoyed a hugely successful career spanning two decades, winning a whole host of major honours with nine different clubs.
The 38-year-old began his career in Sweden with Malmo, before making his name at Ajax, where he established himself as one of the most talented forwards in Europe.
He went on to play for Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and LA Galaxy, racking up 449 career goals in total.
Ibrahimovic called time on his adventure in the MLS back in November and, after a month of intense transfer speculation, he ended up going back to San Siro in January.
The veteran frontman has returned to help Milan re-establish themselves as a force in Serie A after years of mediocrity and has already had a positive impact, scoring three goals in eight appearances.
Pescara boss Legrottaglie witnessed Ibrahimovic’s talents up close while he was on Juve’s books and says the Swede’s strength and confidence in his own ability are what sets him apart from his peers.
“The strongest player I played with is Ibrahimovic. The strongest of all,” Legrottaglie told Il Centro.
“Once, when we were at Juve, he said to me: ‘Ibra makes you win the championships, not Jesus’.”
Legrottaglie added on what he learned from his experience with the Bianconeri: “Juventus leaves a mark. Even if you don’t notice it, that environment marks you in a positive way.
“They inculcate your winning mentality. Sacrifice and work. When you then go to other clubs you understand why the world of Juventus is different.”
Juventus have a fight on their hands to retain the Scudetto this season, with Lazio and Inter both hot on their heels after 24 fixtures.
Maurizio Sarri’s men will aim to beat SPAL this weekend to maintain their advantage at the summit, before their focus switches to a Champions League tie against Lyon.
Milan, meanwhile, have fallen down to ninth in the Serie A standings but have won six of their last nine matches across all competitions.
Ibrahimovic will be back in contention for a place in Stefan Pioli’s line-up when the Rossoneri travel to Fiorentina on Saturday.