Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s parents were immigrants from the former Yugoslavia: his father was born in Bijeljina, Bosnia and his mother in Zadar, Croatia. They both met at Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born the 3 of October of 1981at Malmö, growing up in the neighbourhood of Rosengård. When he was five, he was given his first pair of boots and began playing football at the age of eight, alternating between local junior clubs Malmö Anadolu B. I. and FBK Balkan. At the age of ten, he was regular in FBK Balkan, playing with children two years older than him. It was then when he made a name for himself, in a match for Balkan’s 12-year-old against Vellinge: with Balkan 4-0 down at half time, Zlatan came off the bench and scored eight goals to give his team an 8-5 victory. Soon he was admitted in to Borgarskolan in Malmö, and decided to drop out school to focus on his football career. Ibrahimovic signed up with Malmö in 1995 and progressed through its youth academy until in 1999, when he moved to the senior side of the club.
Ibrahimovic made his debut with Malmö’s first team (under coach Roland Andersson) in the Sweden’s top-flight league (Allsvenskan) in 1999. That season Malmö finished 13th in the league and were relegated to the second division (Superettan), returning to the top-flight in the following one. In 2000 Ibrahimovic made 26 appearances and scored 12 goals with Malmö. Top Clubs of all over the world expressed their interest in Zlatan Ibrahimovic (among them, the Arsenal F. C.). After watching Ibrahimovic in a training game against Norwegian side Moss F.K, AFC Ajax coach Leo Beenhakker also expressed his interest in the player and finally he was transferred to the dutch club in 2001, joining Ajax for a record-breaking €7.8 million, highest fee ever paid to a Swedish club.
In Ajax he received the number 9 shirt, the same one that was worn by players like Patrick Kluivert, Nwankwo Kanu or Marco Van Basten. Under manager Co Adriaanse, Ibrahimovic received a little playing, but after Adriaanse was sacked and Ronald Koeman was appointed new coach, Ibrahimovic became a regular player in the starting lineup of Ajax. The team won the 2001/2002 Eredivisie and also the KNVB Cup against Utrecht, being Ibrahimovic who scored the golden goal that gave Ajax the Dutch Cup. Also in 2001 took place his debut with the national team: Ibrahimovic played for the first time for Sweden 31 of January of 2001, against Feroe Island In the next season. Since then, Ibrahimovic was regular in the national team and was part of the Korea & Japan FIFA World Cup in 2002, in which Sweden were eliminated in the round of 16. In the 2002/2003 season, Ibrahimovic made his debut in Champions League competition, scoring two goals in the first match against Olympique Lyonnais. He scored four goals overall and Ajax were eliminated in quarterfinals by A.C. Milan. In the Eredivisie, Ibrahimovic made 25 appearances and scored 13 goals.
In final season with Ajax (2003/2004), Ibrahimovic scored one of the best goals in his career, the well-known goal against NAC Breda which was voted by Eurosport viewers as the best goal of the year. Ibrahimovic scored 13 goals in 22 fixtures. In Champions League, Ajax were eliminated in the group stage and Ibrahimovi only could score one goal. In August 2004, Ibrahimovic injured his teammate Rafael van der Vaart during an international match against the Netherlands. Van der Vaart accused Ibrahimovic to have hurt him intentionally. Ibrahimovic decided then it was the right moment to leave Ajax and go to a bigger club.