Zlatan Ibrahimović was named Sweden's player of the year for an unprecedented fifth time at the country's annual football awards ceremony in his home town of Malmo last night.
Receiving the Golden Ball, which the 29-year-old previously won in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009, completed a memorable couple of days for the AC Milan striker after he scored the only goal in Sunday's derby against FC Internazionale Milano.
"I didn't imagine I'd win this award five times when I went for my trial with Malmö FF at the age of 12," said Ibrahimović in his acceptance speech at the Malmö Arena. The Sweden forward is the only player to have claimed the honour – awarded by the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) and newspaper Sportbladet – more than twice.
Sweden's female player of the year prize, the Diamond Ball, went to another local favourite, Therese Sjögran of LdB FC Malmö. The 33-year-old, who previously landed it in 2007, recently helped her club to a first Swedish women's crown in 16 years.
Overall it was a great night for the city of Malmo. Malmö FF's 19-year-old midfielder Ivo Pekalski was named newcomer of the year with his boss Roland Nilsson feted as 2010's top coach for leading his side to the title.
Former Malmö boss Bob Houghton received a standing ovation as he was given a special lifetime achievement prize; the 63-year-old coach of the India national team led Malmö to three Swedish titles and the final of the 1979 European Champion Clubs' Cup. "Sweden in the 1970s had smart players and they could also run," remembered Houghton after receiving his award from special guest Johann Cruyff.
The most frequent visitor to the winners' podium was LdB FC Malmö's Dutch striker Manon Melis; the Damallsvenskan's player of the year was also honoured as the league's top forward and leading scorer.