Zlatan Ibrahimovic says history should have prepared LA Galaxy fans for his spectacular MLS debut.
It took Ibrahimovic just 20 minutes to begin his Stateside career with a bang after the former Manchester United striker came off the bench and scored a brace in the Galaxy’s dramatic comeback against neighbours LAFC.
Galaxy were trailing 3-0 in the inaugural Los Angeles derby to new MLS club LAFC, before they pegged the visitors back to 3-2.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic jumps for joy after his stunning first goal on his LA Galaxy debut
The striker backed up his impressive self-confidence by finding the net in fine style
Ibrahimovic scored twice in a memorable debut to complete LA Galaxy’s comeback win
Substitute Ibrahimovic then fired in a stunning 40-yard half-volley to level the scores, before heading home a 90th minute winner.
But after previously scoring on his debuts in Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League, Ibrahimovic wasn’t surprised to be Galaxy’s hero.
Ibrahimovic said: ‘If you look back, every team I played for, I scored in my first official game. I wasn’t going to let that stop today.
‘I was just waiting to come on because when you’re losing 3-0, the adrenaline is pumping even more because you want to be able to do something for your team in a difficult situation.
‘The fans were demanding something and I gave them Zlatan.
The former Manchester United striker immediately looked at home in LA Galaxy colours
‘I always say it’s difficult when you do something like that first goal. You cannot describe it. You need to go through it yourself and I’ve been through it many times. Wherever I’ve gone, the fans have gone crazy.
‘I said before I came here in Manchester with the Galaxy people, that I would make the fans enjoy me.
‘There are kids out there and you just want to give back to them. They are the future and you want to be a good example to them in a crazy way and that’s by scoring crazy goals.’
It was Ibrahimovic’s first competitive outing since December after the final three months of his United career saw him confined to the treatment table.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored just six minutes into his LA Galaxy debut against Los Angeles FC
LA Galaxy: Bingham; Feltscher, Steres, Skjelvik, Cole; Kitchen, Carrasco (Husidic 63); Pontius (Romney 84), Lletget (Ibrahimovic 71), Boateng; Kamara.
Subs not used: Vom Steeg, Lassiter, Hillard-Arce, Kilmenta.
Goals: Lletget 61, Pontius 73, Ibrahimovic 77, 90
Los Angeles FC: Miller; Beitashour, Jakovic, Ciman, Braganca; Feilhaber (Blackmon 82), Kaye; Blessing (Atuesta 68), Vela, Rossi; Urena.
Subs not used: Harvey, Kovar, Pacheco, Zimmerman, Lyon.
Goals: Vela 5, 26, Steres (o.g. 48)
And the 36-year-old admits he couldn’t have lasted any longer than his brief substitute’s outing.
He said: ‘I felt I’d played 40 games for my 20 minutes. It was everything – jet lag, didn’t play for a long time.
‘I did the first sprint and I was starting to breathe immediately, so when the second one came, I thought I’ll shoot and not run with the ball. That was the ball that went in.
‘But there was a lot of adrenaline because I hadn’t played for a long time.’
Both Ibrahimovic’s equaliser and winner sparked wild scenes of celebration inside Galaxy’s StubHub Center after fans had been calling for the Swede to be thrown into the fray, prior to his introduction.
‘It was amazing from the first step I took inside the stadium,’ he said.
‘Once I was on the bench, I could feel the support, but not just for me, for the whole team. They wanted Zlatan and I gave them Zlatan.
‘It’s easier to play when you have fans pushing you, supporting you and giving you that little bit extra you need.
‘When you have a team that welcomes you in the best way, it makes it easier for you.
‘When it goes well, you see the happiness in your team-mates and you just want to keep going.
‘But I was happy when the game finished because I don’t know if I could have played more!’
Despite his spectacular debut, Ibrahimovic hopes that his subsequent games in a Galaxy shirt can be more subdued affairs.
He added: ‘The fans enjoy a game like that, but for the players, it’s not so easy because you want to play a game where you have it under control and when you’re winning the game.
‘But when you lose 3-0 and you win 4-3, it’s fantastic for the fans.
‘I heard from a media guy that I’ve woken up the football in the US. Hopefully, but not in this way because we want to have control over the game. We hope every game is not like that because it’s not easy.
‘I can imagine LAFC now after winning 3-0 and losing 4-3. But if they had Zlatan, it would be opposite…’