Euro 2012: Roy Hodgson wary of Zlatan Ibrahimovic threat

By Phil McNultyChief football writer, BBC Sport

England manager Roy Hodgson is under no illusions about the threat posed by Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their second Euro 2012 game on Friday.

The AC Milan striker has often failed to produce his natural brilliance against Premier League teams in Europe.

But Hodgson - who first saw Ibrahimovic as a teenager playing for former club Malmo 12 years ago - has outlined the danger he will pose in Kiev.

"Zlatan's career record is quite incredible," said Hodgson.

"I don't think he polarises opinion - certainly not in Sweden because he is an iconic figure and they are very much in awe of him to some extent because of his career.

"Maybe on one or two of the times he has come to England he has not succeeded when he has been built up to succeed, but that may be down to the fact that on the day he met a good team that made it hard for him to play."

Ibrahimovic's quality can be traced on a map of a nomadic career that has taken in Ajax in the Netherlands, Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan before a stint at Barcelona paved the way for his return to Milan in Serie A.

Hodgson added: "I have seen quite a lot of him over the years. I saw him first playing for Malmo in 2000. They had been relegated for the only time in their history - he made sure they got straight back up again as a fairly young precocious talent 12 years ago.

"I thought then that he was going to be something special and of course everything he has done since then has proved how special he is.

"We have to be careful but at international level the opponents are going to have someone special. I think we have got one or two players who teams playing against us will regard as special.

"Sometimes it is a question of the special players making sure they can produce it on the night. There is no doubt if someone has a great talent that talent will surface and will always be there.

"Sometimes as a coach you are hoping that talent surfaces on the one occasion when it is important for you, in the one game that is important for you."