Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 'I'm very happy in Paris'

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic paris attacks davies_00011926
    Zlatan Ibrahimovic paris attacks davies_00011926

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    Story highlights

    • Striker says it was "very difficult" to focus before Euro 2016 qualifier against Denmark
    • Swede has organized massive screen to broadcast Malmo vs. PSG
    • Ibrahimovic says Muslim background not a factor in fans' perception of him
    • Says French fans will cheer more for him than home team at Euros

    (CNN)Paris is home for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and that's the way he likes it.

    Despite the tragic events that unfolded earlier this month in Paris -- which included a foiled attack on the Stade de France -- the Swedish football star isn't about to be cowed into leaving his adopted city.
      In a city that prides itself on doing things beautifully, and for a scorer of barely imaginable goals -- Paris and Ibrahimovic has been a match made in heaven.
      "I'm happy in Paris. I'm very happy," Ibrahimovic told CNN's Amanda Davies, ahead of Paris Saint-Germain's UEFA Champions League match against his hometown club Malmo on Wednesday.
      The prolific striker was preparing for a crucial Euro 2016 playoff match against Denmark when news broke of the Paris attacks on November 13. A total of 130 people died in the French capital as a result of the coordinated attacks.
      "I had very important games. I had two games and when it happened I was getting these messages: 'Things happening in Paris,'" he recalled.
      "Every minute something new happened, and then the next day I had a game. And they asked me then, 'How was it to focus on the game?' It was very difficult because I had people (in Paris) that are very close to me," said Ibrahimovic, who has two sons with longtime partner Helena Seger.
      "The game became less important and it didn't become, let's say, the main thing for me," he said. "It was difficult to focus. It was very difficult."
      Nevertheless, Ibrahimovic would score both goals for Sweden in the second leg of the playoff against Denmark, earning his nation a place in the 24-team tournament to be held in France next June and July -- a circumstance in which he takes delight.
      "I've had a fantastic time in France. I think I brought many eyes to the French competition," he said, referring to Ligue 1.
      In typical Ibrahimovic fashion, the 34-year-old, who is never shy in offering a provocative soundbite, then goes one step further. "I think (the French) will cheer more for me than they will the French national team."
      Before arriving at PSG in 2012, his career could be labeled peripatetic given he had played for Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan.
      But Ibrahimovic is now settling into his fourth season in the French capital -- his longest tenure at any club -- where he has scored 115 goals in 141 games.
      Part of that exulted class of sport stars identifiable by just his first name -- Zlatan -- he revealed that the atmosphere in Paris following the attacks "is a little bit cold."
      "It's not like it was before," added Ibrahimovic. "But we still need to go on. We cannot give up here. We go on and we do what we need to do.
      "Of course, these things (are) not good. It's not supposed to happen. It's madness what happened. But I don't know what to say. The only thing is, I feel sorry for what happened and that's the way it is."

      23, 24, 25 and now 26. New trophy, the French Cup.

      A photo posted by IAmZlatan (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on

      Ibrahimovic, whose parents immigrated to Malmo from the former Yugoslavia before he was born, said his mixed background did not affect people's perception of him in France.
      "For me, it didn't change (anything) because my father is Muslim and my mother is Catholic," he said. "For me it is all about respect. That's how I grew up and the way I learned to be. This is what I am."
      In Malmo, a giant screen will broadcast Wednesday's Champions League match, courtesy of the club's former hometown star.
      "I want everyone to see this game," said Ibrahimovic, who began his senior career at Malmo in 1999 before moving to Dutch club Ajax two years later and launching his international career. "People will talk about this day for a long time in the future."
      PSG will wear customized "Je Suis Paris" jerseys for the occasion, replacing their usual sponsored logo.
      "I play football. I try to do what I'm best at -- playing football and making people happy -- and life goes on," he said.