By Philip O’Connor
MALMO (Reuters) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic is hoping the home crowd in Sweden sing his name on Wednesday, despite his determination to fire Paris Saint Germain into the knockout stages of the Champions League and end boyhood club Malmo FF’s European adventure.
“A perfect scenario is that we win, I score three goals and everyone chants my name after the match,” a beaming Ibrahimovic told a media conference in his home town on Tuesday. “But during the game, they should support Malmo.”
A win would see PSG secure qualification from Group A and severely damage what little hope Malmo, bottom on three points, have of securing third place in Group A and qualifying for the Europa League.
It was with Malmo that Ibrahimovic made his breakthrough as a precociously gifted teenager, scoring 16 times in 40 appearances for the club before leaving to join Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam.
That departure signalled the beginning of a glittering career that saw him win league titles with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG.
Wednesday’s game marks the first time he has returned to Malmo to play a competitive game with a club side, and with tickets like gold dust, the 34-year-old has arranged for the game to be shown on a big screen in the city’s main square, Stortorget.
“When the draw was made, I called Malmo FF directly and said ‘book Stortorget. I’ll have it,'” he said.
“It took a while, but then they called back and said it was booked. I said ‘good, I want everyone to have a chance to see the game.'”
Ibra lamented the heavy security that prevented him from showing his team mates around his home town, saying he’d like to show them the tough estate where he learnt the skills that made him a household name.
“If I could, I would have taken them to Rosengard,” he said, with a broad smile. “Show them how we play there.”
PSG are currently in second place in Group A on seven points, three behind Real Madrid. Malmo, currently bottom, and Shakhtar Donetsk both have three points.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ian Chadband)