A statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been put under police protection just weeks after its unveiling due to vandalism from fans of his boyhood club.
Malmo supporters lit fires at the base of the tribute, which is located outside the club’s stadium, after Ibrahimovic acquired nearly 25 per cent of Stockholm-based team Hammarby.
Ibrahimovic began his career with Malmo before making his name at clubs such as Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona and Paris St-Germain.
The 38-year-old forward, who played more than 100 times for Sweden, spoke at the unveiling of his statue on October 8, but those who once loved him reacted angrily to his Hammarby involvement.
Hammarby play their football in the Swedish Allsvenskan with Malmo, the two teams finishing third and second respectively in 2019, separated only by goal difference.
Ibrahimovic’s property in Stockholm was also attacked, with graffiti on the door and fermented herring reportedly poured in the doorway.
Upon his involvement with Hammarby, the former Manchester United striker said “I think they in Malmo respect this… I think they are happy for my sake”.
He was wrong. “It’s ridiculous. He’s deluded,” Kaveh Hosseinpour, vice-chairman of Malmo’s official supporters’ group, told Aftonbladet. “He lives in another reality if he believes that.
“I don’t think they’re (Hammarby fans) happy either. Should we see him there it will only be motivation to sing extra loud when we play there so we can show him he was totally wrong in his choice of which club he wants to make the biggest in Scandinavia.
“(Malmo) is the biggest right now and will remain so, no matter what Zlatan does in Hammarby.”