Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Pep Guardiola is 'not a man,' says Swedish star

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 'Guardiola is not a man'
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    Story highlights

    • Carlo Ancelotti is Zlatan Ibrahimovic's favorite manager
    • Swede's favorite teammate was Patrick Vieira -- "a monster"
    • Playing at Barcelona for one year was like being in a PlayStation game
    • Says French fans will cheer more for him than home team at Euros

    (CNN)Given France's prodigious reputation for producing fine wines, no wonder Zlatan Ibrahimovic feels at home in the country's capital Paris.

    "I'm like the wine. The older I get, the better I get," the mercurial forward for Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden told CNN's Amanda Davies in an expansive interview conducted at Camp des Loges, the club's suburban training ground.
      PSG is the 34-year-old's seventh professional club, but will the French champions be the last team Ibrahimovic plays for?
      "I can continue many years. But the thing is, do I want to continue?" Ibrahimovic asks himself, before putting his (sizable) foot down.
      "I decide my future. I decide what I want to do. Nobody else," he says defiantly. "If I decide this will be my last year, maybe it is. If I decide, it will be my last contract, I decide that. Nobody else. So I will decide when the moment is there."
      Given he is, in fact, improving with age, maybe Ibrahimovic should put off any potential retirement plans. In nine league appearances this season, he has netted nine goals, propelling PSG to the top of Ligue 1 by 13 points.
      Although the season is not even half finished, the Parisian club is coasting to its fourth consecutive league title -- a streak that began when PSG signed Ibrahimovic from A.C. Milan in 2012.
      The timing is no coincidence, as the Swede has enjoyed one of the most remarkable runs in this history of European club football.
      In the 14 seasons since he left his hometown club Malmo, Ibrahimovic has won 12 domestic league titles -- although the two at Juventus were later revoked due to a broad match fixing scandal.
      In 141 matches in all competitions with PSG, the striker has scored 115 goals and counting.
      Even so, despite the records, the titles and goals, Ibrahimovic does not get mentioned in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, instead generating more publicity for bust-ups with players (usually his own teammates) and coaches.
      Does that bother him?
      "I want to be remembered as the football player I was. The private person is nobody's business," he says before drilling down on his achievements -- Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel and author Henning Mankel look away now.
      "I put Sweden on the map," he declares, noting the significance that the focal player on his country's national team is the son of immigrants born into a poor Malmo housing estate.
      "People know what Sweden is because of me now. The way that I opened the door for the young people that come from where I come from and that have a different background, that is what I want to be remembered for."
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      Perhaps understandably, Ibrahimovic looks back with great pride on the journey that has taken him from the "ghetto" of Rosengard to Paris.
      "I came from that area where I had all the odds against me. (They said) I would become nothing. I will not succeed. I was foreigner. The way I was playing, I was not playing like a typical Swedish. He has an ego ... But I come back as a world star.
      "I know what I've done and I know what I'm going through, so I give myself credit," he says.
      Ibrahimovic has scored 11 of Sweden's 18 goals in its successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, with the tournament to be hosted by France next summer.
      The opportunity to play in front of his adopted country is one he clearly relishes. "I think (the French) will cheer more for me than they will the French national team," he says, with no trace of irony.
      Before arriving at PSG, Ibrahimovic's career could be labeled peripatetic given he had played for Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan.
      Perhaps the one omission from that impressive club CV is that the Swede, whose current PSG contract expires at the end of the season, has never played in the English Premier League.
      "I was close two times [to joining the Premier League] -- Arsenal one time. [Manchester] City one time," explains Ibrahimovic. "But it never happened."
      Playing under so many top managers and so many formidable teammates affords the man perspective that is rare in the game.
      "In my career I had the luck that I'd be playing with the best players in the world," he says. "When I came to Juventus, I was sitting in the locker room (next to Lilian) Thuram, (Fabio) Cannavaro, (David) Trezeguet, (Alessandro) Del Piero, (Gianluigi) Buffon, (Pavel) Nedved -- who were crazy players."
      It was being in the company of such established stars that forced Ibrahimovic to step up his game.
      "I said to myself, either I'm one of them or I'm only here to bring water for them," he reflects. "And I said to myself, no. This is my conquest now. This is my surrounding. I am one of them and I will show them who I am."
      His favorite teammate, however, was one he would later meet at Inter Milan.
      "For me, (Patrick) Vieira, is one of the best players I ever played with. The guy was a monster when I played and he (taught) me a lot outside and inside the pitch," he says.
      After three seasons with Inter, Ibrahimovic went on to play on a fabled Barcelona team. Although his time there was soured by his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola, Ibrahimovic recalls the experience as akin to playing in a real life video game.
      "When I came to Barcelona, this was like a PlayStation," he says. "All the players were -- wow. It was not like somebody had a weakness or something. It was from (Lionel) Messi, Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta -- you know the names -- Dani Alves, (Carles) Puyol, (Gerard) Pique.
      "It was like I was in that PlayStation game and somebody's controlling me now and I can do whatever I want on the pitch," he says.
      Despite leaving after just one season (a championship one, naturally), following the breakdown of his relationship with Guardiola -- reportedly the two did not speak for the final four months of the campaign -- Ibrahimovic has mixed things to say about his former manager.
      "Whatever happened, as a coach he was fantastic," he says of the Barcelona legend. "As a person, I have no comments about that."
      Zlatan prepares for emotional homecoming
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      When pressed, however, Ibrahimovic labels Guardiola, the current Bayern Munich manager, as "not a man."
      Guardiola was not immediately available for comment when CNN attempted to contact him via Bayern Munich.
      The Swede was kinder to his favorite coach Carlo Ancelotti, and to Jose Mourinho, the third of his three managers at Inter, calling him a "mastermind" and sympathizing with his current situation at Chelsea.
      "We had a fantastic year together, and I think in his career he has done amazing things," he says of the Portugese manager.
      "But it's not every day you can be on top; that is the difficult part in our job," he says, before wondering, "Who (wouldn't) want to have Mourinho?"
      When he eventually does decide to hang up his boots, the man known simply as Zlatan says the football world won't easily forget him.
      "Hopefully they will miss me," he says of his fans around the world, "which I know they will."