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Monday, March 1, 2021

Nedum Onuoha accuses Zlatan Ibrahimovic of disrespect

Ex-Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha has claimed Zlatan Ibrahimovic threatened to hurt him during LA Galaxy’s victory over Real Salt Lake, and accused the striker of disrespect.

The pair clashed twice, before Ibrahimovic scored the 78th-minute winner and celebrated in Onuoha’s face.

Onuoha, 32, says he rejected the Swede’s apology in the dressing room.

“Over here it is just a show for him. A lot of people are scared of him – but he is just a mere mortal,” he said.

“First, he was very arrogant. Secondly, I thought: ‘What is this guy playing at?’

“This is not the way you are supposed to do it, especially someone who is meant to be the face of the game here and the game globally.

“I wasn’t a fan before – and I’m definitely not a fan now.”

What happened and what was said?

The first flashpoint came in the 60th minute, when 37-year-old Ibrahimovic was booked for dragging Onuoha to the ground by his neck in an off-the-ball incident.

Onuoha said the former Manchester United striker then made the threats to him following another challenge shortly afterwards.

“This time he hit me on top of head. I was again thinking: ‘What is going on here?'” Onuoha told BBC Sport.

“He kept saying: ‘You know what? I am going to hurt you. I am going to do you. You just watch, there is enough time, I am going to do you.'”

After Ibrahimovic scored, Onuoha claims the former Sweden international told him: “You don’t mess with me in the game. You don’t mess with me.”

Once the game was over, Ibrahimovic came into Real’s dressing room, later telling reporters: “I went to shake their hands, no big issues.”

Describing the moment, Onuoha, who joined Real in 2018, said: “He started coming towards me and said, ‘have you calmed down, big man?’

“The amount of disrespect he showed me on the field – I want to let things go, but I can’t let them go, especially when it is so raw.

“The way he came in was almost arrogant in itself, trying to be all friendly. But this is the guy who fouled me on the field, tried to embarrass me when they scored, then he comes in to try and allegedly apologise.

“I do not think he is a good person, so I am not going to offer my hand and, in no uncertain terms, I told him to get out.”

‘This guy is disrespectful’

Asked about the confrontation, Ibrahimovic told reporters: “What happens on the field stays on the field.

“I like to feel alive. I like when it becomes duels and that, because sometimes – not that I fall asleep – but I don’t feel alive if they don’t actually activate me. When I get angry, I feel good.”

Onuoha responded to those comments by saying: “If that is how he wants to motivate himself, then whatever. He was having a poor game before that. He must have thought I was straight out of college over here, the way he was talking to me.”

Asked if he would accept a proper apology, Onuoha added: “No, I think it is fake. He still thinks he is better than me as a human being and I don’t have time for people like that.

“Even when I played against [Juventus forward] Cristiano Ronaldo when he was younger, he’d be a bit temperamental, but that was his pure desire to win, not necessarily to disrespect the opponent, which is what I think this guy is doing.

“It seemed like it was me upsetting him more, which is crazy from a guy who will go down as one of the greatest of all time in Europe.”

Asked about the teams’ next meeting in Utah in September, Onuoha replied: “The last time we played them at home we beat them 6-2. If it is anything even close to that it will be a very good day with lots of celebrations to rub in his face.”

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