Speaking in Sweden‘s pre-match press conference on Tuesday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic recalled the first time he ever met Anthony Elanga while Zlatan was playing for Manchester United.
“First time I met him, we were in the restaurant in the training ground, and he came up to me and he said ‘you know my father’, and I was like, ‘help me now because I dont know who I am talking to’. [He said] ‘Yeah, you played with my father in Malmo, Elanga’, and then everything clicked. I said OK, and it made me happy because I was not the only Swedish one in Manchester, we had another Swedish player.“
For context reasons, I want to point out that this story took place before Victor Lindelof signed for the club.
Continuing to speak about the time he was in Manchester, Zlatan said: “By that time I did not see him [Elanga] play because they [the youth team] were playing on the other side of the training ground. But then he played with the national team under-21, and that is when I saw him for the first time, and then obviously now with the frist team in Manchester.
“We are all happy and we are enjoying the adventure he is on; he just started. I’m in the end, he’s on the way up, so it’s good. So you will have something to watch for another 20 years.“
It is clear that people in Sweden are excited about Anthony Elanga, and view him as a great hope in the future for the national side.
“He’s [Elanga] a great talent, we are proud and happy that he comes from Sweden,” said Ibrahimovic. “That he can represent Sweden now makes it even bigger.
“He has all the future ahead of him, and if he continues just as he has done, it looks positive. It’s just fighting, never being content, striving for more. How much he can develop depends on him.“
Speaking in the same press conference, Anthony Elanga had only praise for his Swedish hero and now fellow team-mate, Zlatan.
“You can see it, for the past 20 years, what he’s done not only for the national team but obviously at club football level [as well] – the amount of team’s he’s played for. You can see that the way he’s scoring his goals, and even when I was young, I used to look up to him, you know, being from Sweden, born in Sweden, obviously moving to England.
“When I found out that he he’d signed for United I couldn’t wait to speak to him, you know. Ask him about the memories he had with my dad.
“It means a lot, you know, to be able to see him day in day out here at the camp, training with him, speak to him, it’s an honour, its a big honour.“
Many United fans will be hoping to see Elanga learn off Ibrahimovic over the course of the next week or so, as Elanga’s abundance of talent will put him in good steed for the future.
Sweden take on the Czech Republic later on today at 7:45pm GMT in a bid to continue their 2022 World Cup qualification.