Pressure was incredible. It was like thunder in the air and we had to win big to advance. But then, I don’t even want to consider it, or, well, I do. It made me stronger. We won 1-0. But that wasn’t enough. We were eliminated from the Champions League and later on Guardiola looked at me like it was my fault.
I felt like sh*t sitting in the dressing room and Guardiola was looking at me like I was a problem, some freak. It was ridiculous. He was a wall, a stone wall. I didn’t get a single sign of life from him and I wanted to get far away every second. I was no longer part of the team and when we played Villarreal, he let me play 5 minutes. 5 minutes! I was boiling inside, not because I was on the bench, as I can deal with that if the coach is man enough to say, “You’re not good enough, Zlatan.”
But Guardiola didn’t say a single word, nothing, and at this point, I’d had it. I could feel it in my entire body, and if I was Guardiola, I would have been scared. Not that I’m a fighter. I’ve done all sorts of crazy s***. But I don’t fight, well, on the pitch I’ve knocked one or two out. But still, when I get angry, my eyes turn black. You don’t want to be anywhere near me. And let me tell you in detail what happened.
After the game I went into the dressing room. I hadn’t exactly planned some raging attack. But I wasn’t happy, to use mild words, and in the dressing room my enemy was standing, scratching his bald head. Yaya Toure and some others were there. I was staring at the big metal box where we put our clothes. Then I kicked it. I think it flew three metres. But I wasn’t done yet. Far from it. I yelled: “You have no balls!” And possibly some worse things. Then, I added: “You sh*t yourself in front of Mourinho. You can go f**k yourself!”
I went ridiculous and maybe you’d expect Guardiola to say anything, perhaps, “Calm down, you don’t talk to your coach that way.” But he’s not like that. He’s a weak coward. He just picked up the box, like a little cleaner, and then he left and never mentioned it again. Nothing at all. But, of course, word spread.
In the bus, everybody was going crazy: “What happened?! What happened?!” Nothing, I thought. Just a couple words of truth. But I didn’t have the energy talking about it. I was so angry. My coach had frozen me out continuously without explaining why. It was sick. I’ve had some bad fights before but the day after we’d always fixed things out and moved on. Now the silence and terror just continued and I thought, “I’m 28 years old. I’ve scored 22 goals and 15 assists here at Barca, and still I’m treated like I don’t exist, like air. Should I allow this? Should I continue adapting? No way!”
When I understood I’d be on the bench against Almeria, I remembered the words from one of my very first meetings with Guardiola: “Here, in Barca, we don’t drive Ferrari or Porsche to training.” What bullsh*t was that anyway? I drive what I want, at least if it p*sses off some idiot. I jumped into my Enzo, floored it and parked outside the door at training. Of course, it led to a circus. The papers wrote that my car cost as much as the monthly income for the entire Almeria squad. But I didn’t care. Media bulls**t meant nothing at this time. I had decided to give back.
I realised it more and more, there was no going back. It was time to stand up for myself and become the real me again. Because don’t forget: You can take the kid out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the kid.