Hakan Çalhanoğlu has revealed that his new AC Milan teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović introduced himself in Turkish after the Swede completed his return to San Siro earlier this month.
The 38-year-old rejoined the Rossoneri from LA Galaxay in what many expect to be the last move of Ibrahimović’s career, more than 20 years after breaking into senior football where he’s gone on to score 457 goals in 743 games.
But despite Ibrahimović’s status as Sweden’s best ever player and one of the most recognisable footballers of the 21st century, Çalhanoğlu says the veteran was uncharacteristically humble when they first met and that his new teammate even spoke to him in his native Turkish.
“He immediately approached me and greeted me warmly,” Çalhanoğlu told Sport Bild. “He said that he has a lot of Turkish friends. And that he totally likes my countrymen because of their warm-heartedness.
“Zlatan surprised me when he said a few sentences in Turkish. For example: ‘How are you?’ And he explained that he also likes to listen to Turkish songs. Which ones exactly? I don’t know. I’m just happy that he is interested in me and my home country.”
Ibrahimović’s return to Milan wasn’t just an attempt to give the club a much-needed boost up the table, but the Sweden international helped to bring a feel-good factor back to supporters who’ve watched their side decline over the last decade.
“When Zlatan ran into San Siro for the first time in the home game against Sampdoria, the fans went crazy with joy,” Çalhanoğlu added. “The stadium was suddenly really loud.
“Recently it was rather quiet in the stands. Since he’s been here, the mood has increased. Milan lives again through Zlatan. And for me, this big club has become even more attractive thanks to Ibrahimović.”
Ibra couldn’t score on his debut against Sampdoria, but the Swede did get his 57th goal for Milan when the Rossoneri travelled to Cagliari last week.