During the European championships this summer SvD Junior followed Zlatan’s footsteps in Rosengård, Malmö. Before we left Rosengård Shenasi came up and whispered:
"I hope Zlatan will be happy when he reads this".
Six months later Shenasi and Zlatan are sitting together in a studio in Manchester. SvD had tried for 18 months to get an interview with Zlatan. Then suddenly, one day in November, the phone rings.
"Zlatan wants to meet you, but you have to come to Manchester", says Joel who works with Zlatan.
SvD Junior went back to Rosengård. The boys who are going to be junior reporters at the interview with Zlatan are Shenasi and his best friend Arbnor who was also in SvD Junior’s report this summer. They both play football for FC Rosengård. But when we meet them again they have no idea that they are about to meet their idol. When they learn that they are going to Manchester to meet Zlatan they first go silent. But finally they say:
On the plane almost everyone is silent, except Arbnor and Shenasi who are laughing and planning their interview. The next day is like a build up to a match. We have a big breakfast and work on the questions. All over Manchester there are Zlatan-jerseys and billboards with Zlatan. The boys are getting nervous.
All good? Are you nervous? You shouldn’t be boys, because I’m not.
Suddenly it is five o’clock. It is time. They can see Zlatan approaching.
"There he is", the boys whisper.
He comes up, gives two thumbs up and asks:
"All good? Are you nervous? You shouldn’t be boys, because I’m not."
Zlatan reads this summer’s report in SvD Junior and breaks up in a big smile when he sees the pictures of Shenasi, Arbnor and the other football kids in his beloved Rosengård.
"Good work guys, did you do this? I’m going to show this article to my kids," Zlatan says.
Zlatan talks to the boys about Rosengård, about school, what football pitches they’ve played on and who they know.
Shenasi: Which football exercise is the hardest?
"For me the hardest thing is to run, (laughs). But you have to. If you don’t run it becomes even harder. I prefer playing offense - I’m good at it - defending feels less good.
Arbnor: When you are tired and don’t have the energy for training, what makes you do it anyway?
– Phew … That’s when you have to have discipline. You have to get there and do the work anyway. If you manage to do it when you are tired, you can do it every day. Practice every day. Motivate yourself and have fun. Find something that drives you and that you want to become better at. If somebody annoys you - go there and tunnel him, dribble. It’s fun playing football, right? Don’t worry, as long as you think football is fun.
Shenasi: Who is your best friend on the team?
– The ball, he has become my best friend. After the ball, in this team? There are many, everyone is nice.
Shenasi: Is there anyone you hang out with more often?
– You are thinking after training? Not that many actually, now that I have two kids I don’t have much time. I don’t have the energy to see my team mates afterwards, the training is enough.
If they are lucky they can jog with me.
Shenasi: So who do you run with during the training?
– Different people, let’s see… Everyone from Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney – who else?
– Pogba sometimes. But he is always late, he ends up in the back. It depends - if they are lucky they can jog with me.
Arbnor: How did it feel to hang up your national team jersey at Zlatan Court in Rosengård?
– It was a bit tough. It was the last time I touched the national team jersey that I’d been playing in for fifteen years. I have spent a lot of time and gone through a lot with the national team. There have been tough times, fun times, good times. A lot of history has been written in that jersey. But it comes to an end sometime and then something new happens. That’s why I say - enjoy it while it lasts. When it’s over you can’t go back.
Shenasi: Can you share any tips about how we can get better?
– Practice, practice and practice. As long as you practice, are having fun and want to get better at what you are doing you will be fine. Focus and dare to fail - that’s what’s most important. And be confident. We’re from Rosengård, we have self-confidence. That’s how we are. You’re going to be better than me, not as good as - better.
Arbnor: What were you like when you were our age?
– I don’t think anyone thought or believed that I would make something of myself. I was the only one who knew. It wasn’t important to me what other people thought. The most important thing was that I knew. When I came to MFF many people said that I wouldn’t succeed. But what happened? I’m on the top and they are somewhere else, I don’t know where. The most important thing is what you believe. Just train, go for it - you will succeed.
Shenasi: Where does you self-confidence come from?
– By believing in what I do. Even when someone has tried to push me down I have believed in myself. I have said that I’m the best and that’s the way I trained. To become better I trained much harder then everyone else. The you do a show, then you succeed.
Shenasi: What makes you angry?
– A lot of things make me angry. I play better when I’m angry. I don’t like when people push down the ones who are already down, who are already weak. It makes me very angry. When everyone aren’t given an equal opportunity – that makes me angry.
Arbnor: What’s your favorite thing?
– Playing football. That’s the best thing and how I make a living.
Shenasi: Besides something bad happening to your family, is there anything you are afraid of?
– Not much. There isn’t anything that I’m afraid of. I feel strong, just like you do.
Arbnor: What’s your favorite cake?
– What do we like? Cinnamon buns are good. I like when Helena makes them. It doesn’t happen often. But I like them. And chocolate balls.
Arbnor: What’s your clothes style?
– For me ... I’m not a fashion person. I like to feel comfortable. I don’t like suits. That’s for fancy people. But you have to wear a suit when you are going to accept an award.
Shenasi: What’s you favorite food?
– What do you eat? A lot of kebab, pizza? It happens to me too…
Arbnor: What’s the best thing about Rosengård and do you miss it?
– If I could chose I would have been living there today. It’s where I come from, that’s where I learned to play football. I’m proud to say that I’m from Rosengård. For me Rosengård was paradise. I could be myself, I could do anything. I misbehaved, which you have to. I miss Rosengård a lot. But I’ll be back.
I want happiness, love and peace and quiet - that’s what I want.
Shenasi: What did you want for Christmas when you were a kid?
– I wanted all the nice things that I couldn’t get. But I couldn’t get many Christmas presents. Instead I’ve brought them home now. But what do you want when you’re from Rosengård? A nice car, I wanted that. Now I have many nice cars. Today I don’t want that many Christmas presents. Now I’m thinking, what do I want to give the ones closest to me? My children and so on. I want happiness, love and peace and quiet - that’s what I want.
The interview is over. We stick around a bit to hang out with the star.
"Such big hands!"
Zlatan laughs and jokes with the boys who take selfies and gets autographs.
– Very well done boys, that was the best interview I’ve given in ten years, he says.
A car comes to pick up SvD Junior’s team so that we’ll catch our flight.
– Wow, he has such big hands! says Shenasi, while looking at Manchester through the car window.
– Yes, and did you see his feet? They were also huge, says Arbnor.
Was he like you though he’d be?
– No, he was less strict than we thought, says Shenasi.
– Yes, and he didn’t sound so dark or angry. He said "ok" many times, says Arbnor.