In the summer that egotistical Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović has retired from International football and his club future is uncertain, he is also the subject of a documentary directed by brothers Fredrik and Magnus Gertten. Becoming Zlatan focuses on the beginnings of his playing career and his move from Malmö FF to Ajax in 2001. It is a coming-of-age story of sorts as he transitions from the young and confident Zlatan to the slightly older and even more confident rich Zlatan ahead of assuming the media persona he has had for years since.
The narrative switches back and forth between his troublesome times in Sweden as he struggled to make a name for himself and his turbulent period at Ajax where he coped with fame and fortune as well as his football-related battles. Fascinating archive footage is cut in with interesting talking-head interviews with former team mates and managers including Egyptian striker Mido, with whom he clashed with at Ajax, and Ronald Koeman. The film succeeds in highlighting and amplifying the relentless winning mentality of Zlatan, which make it unsurprising that he went onto have such a illustrious record of topping league tables wherever he has played, whether it was in Italy, Spain or France.
By avoiding the standard linear structure and more importantly avoiding the expected route of glorifying their subject, the Gertten brothers deliver a nicely paced, honest representation of a man who is far from perfect, but has the belief and the talent to be the very best at what he does. Becoming Zlatan is an insightful study on one of the modern heroes of the beautiful game, and is a must-see movie for all football fans.