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Is LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s personality all an act?

Sam Borden previews his E:60 profile of soccer's intriguing goal-scorer, "Body Issue" subject

LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a reputation for his outspokenness and confident attitude. Recently deeming himself a “gift” to Los Angeles, Major League Soccer’s Ibrahimovic sits down with E:60 reporter Sam Borden this Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN to discuss his new city and more.

“As soon as I heard the news that Zlatan was going to Los Angeles, I felt like there was no better combination of athlete and city. This guy is, and has always been, one of the true personalities in sports, as much a character as he is a star goal-scorer,” Borden said. “I felt like his personality makes him the kind of athlete that anyone – whether they like his sport or not – would be intrigued by once they saw just a snippet of what he is like.”

Ibrahimovic’s personality is often times so ridiculous that people assume that it’s all an act. Borden admits that even he had similar thoughts before interviewing Ibrahimovic.

Keep your eyes peeled for Body10

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also one of the 16 athletes featured in the 10th edition of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue. BODY10 hits newsstands next Friday, June 29, and the images will be revealed on Monday, June 25 at ESPN.com/bodyissue.

“I asked him about that, straight on, and he swears that his ‘real’ side is the one that everyone sees already. And while I do think he plays things up a bit when the moment or camera strikes him, I do think he’s largely telling the truth. He has been consistent in how he’s acted for years and, in my opinion, it would be pretty hard to put on an act for that long,” said Borden.

It is no secret that soccer fans feel strongly about Ibrahimovic. When asked their thoughts on him, many fans express a love or a strong dislike for the superstar.

“One of my favorite moments in the interview was when I asked Zlatan if he saw himself as a hero or a villain [in the typical L.A.-casting vernacular],” Borden said. “His answer was really thoughtful – essentially he said that he doesn’t mind being either one, particularly because when someone thinks that he’s a bad guy, he knows for certain what that person really thinks of him. As he said, people lie all the time about liking something but no one ever lies about what they hate. So, at a minimum, Zlatan said, he knows where he stands when people see him as a villain. At least then, he said, he can try and figure out a way to change their minds.”

After reporting this story, Borden travelled to Russia where he is one of ESPN’s leading reporters in covering the 2018 World Cup for a global audience.

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