Transfer news: QPR turned down chance to sign Paris St-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he was just 16

Ibrahimovic was not invited to return after a trial at QPR but has since gone on to become one of the most clinical strikers in world football

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The Independent Football

Queens Park Rangers are claimed to have turned down the chance to sign Paris St-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he failed to impress on a trial when he was just 16.

That is the claim made by Tony Flygare, friend of Ibrahimovic and a former footballer who in his youth days with Malmo was rated higher than Ibrahimovic. However, Flygare failed to live up to his potential after the pair were sent to QPR for a trial during Gerry Francis’ tenure as manager at Loftus Road.

Making the claim in his bestseller ‘Once, I was Bigger Than Zlatan’, Flygare reveals how the Swedish captain was not asked back following an incident on the training ground, and yet Ibrahimovic will be taking to the field on Wednesday to try and construct the downfall of Chelsea when PSG entertain the reigning Europa League champions on Wednesday.

“Zlatan was holding on to the ball for too long and the trainer tackled him when he wasn’t expecting it,” Flygare told the Daily Mail.

“For that, Zlatan tackled him back and then told the trainer to ‘**** off’. He went mad at Zlatan.

“Being in England was so much different. He just told Zlatan: ‘for that, you’re going to breathe through your a***’. I’ll never forget it. We didn’t hear from QPR again.

“Zlatan didn’t want to play or stay in England, that is my opinion.”


At the time, QPR were plying their trade in the second tier of English football, and have since endured an up-and-down time of it with a series of promotions and relegations. Ibrahimovic meanwhile has gone on become a global superstar, having scored nearly 250 career goals while winning titles with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG. The 32-year-old is yet to play for an English team again.

The snub is reminiscent of former Blackburn Rovers chairman Jack Walker, who turned down the chance to sign Zinedine Zidane. His reasoning? “Why would we sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?”

Ibrahimovic also had the chance to join Arsenal, but the relationship failed to take off after he demanded Arsene Wenger gave him a trial when sitting in the Gunners’ manager’s office.

Writing in his autobiography, Ibrahimovic said: “I wanted to show him what I could do. ‘Give me a pair of boots. I’ll have a trial, I’ll do it right now’.” But the Swede failed to take to Wenger and he went on to leave Malmo for Ajax, before beginning his journey across Europe’s top clubs.