Manchester United players were still in awe of Zlatan Ibrahimovic even after the Swedish forward had left Old Trafford, says Red Devils goalkeeper Lee Grant.
Ibrahimovic joined United on a free transfer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2016 .
He scored 29 goals in 53 appearances for the Old Trafford club, before being released from his contract early in March 2018 in order to join MLS side the LA Galaxy.
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Grant moved to Old Trafford four months later so never got to play alongside the former Inter and AC Milan forward, though the striker’s impact was still being felt.
“All I was hearing in that first month or so, while I was acclimatising, were stories about Zlatan,” Grant told the club’s official website.
“His period at the club had just come to an end but the lads would talk about him constantly. ‘Do you remember when Zlatan did this?’ ‘Do you remember him getting on to such and such in training and he nearly made him cry?’ ‘Do you remember that thing he does, the kung-fu kick over his head?’ ‘Do you remember Zlatan scored that goal? Do you remember when he nutmegged that guy and absolutely took the p*ss?
“I thought: ‘Oh my God, who is this Zlatan character?’ but that was what it was like all the time.
“I got to meet him [on pre-season tour] in LA but it was literally for five or 10 minutes, just to say hello and ask how he was enjoying America and all the rest of it.
“For me, just to see how the lads interacted with him. Huge stars, well huge stars to me, looking up to the king! It was quite an eye-opener. But he seemed a really nice guy.
“I’m actually disappointed I didn’t get the chance to play with him myself. I played against him, of course.”
Though Grant did not play alongside Ibrahimovic, he did impress when playing against him for Stoke in October 2016.
The 37-year-old made a string of saves as the Potters secured a 1-1 draw against Jose Mourinho’s side, which may have gone a long way towards convincing the United hierarchy to sign him 21 months later.
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“I had him on toast,” joked Grant. “He’s in here, in my pocket somewhere.
“I had him on toast that day. Of course, I wouldn’t say that to his face. If I was training against him, I would imagine he would have me on toast more than I had him on toast but that was a good day for me.
“I wanted to show the Manchester United fans, and everyone in that stadium, not consciously perhaps, but I wanted the fans to remember Lee Grant after this game. Subconsciously, I really wanted to do well and make some impression. I made 10 saves and had a really good game.”
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