The sporting world is full to the brim with egos, but football is especially packed with them. Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Balotelli, José Mourinho… But arguably the biggest (and most entertaining) ego is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The 6ft 5in AC Milan striker, who regularly refers to himself in the third person and once said “I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am” certainly doesn’t have any self-image problems. However, he’s got a much more concerning problem on his hands right now – COVID-19.
The outspoken Swede took to Twitter to let his fans know he’s been hit with The Bat Kiss, in typical Zlatan style:
I tested negative to Covid yesterday and positive today. No symptoms what so ever. Covid had the courage to challenge me. Bad idea
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) September 24, 2020
While we doubt the virus is quaking in its boots, his devil-may-care approach to what would be a frightening diagnosis for just about anyone else on the planet might just be the best way to deal with such an awful setback.
You may have heard of the ‘placebo effect‘ before, the idea being that if your body thinks it’s going to get better, whether due to external stimuli or otherwise, you’re more likely to get better. The reverse is true also: if you think you’re going to be ill you’re more likely to stay ill. Indeed, the mind can totally manufacture illnesses in defiance of medical logic, as this article from The Guardian relates.
The power of positive thinking and the placebo effect has been the focus of an enormous amount of scientific research, although it’s not fully understood yet. One mechanism suggests that there can be a psychosomatic analgesic effect – that is to say, your brain can reduce the impact of pain due to positive thinking.
Now, we don’t want to claim that positive thinking alone will protect you from The Pandemic. Like placebos, we don’t fully understand the virus yet either – hence why ‘Ibra’ tested negative one day and positive the next – and we still don’t have a vaccine or an effective treatment for it. Psychosomatic healing tends to be the domain of neurological or structural conditions such as back pain in any case. However, having a positive mindset like Zlatan’s is surely better than the alternative – sinking into depression and anxiety about the illness.
Earlier this year, Zlatan started a $1.1 million fundraiser to raise funds for Humanitas in the fight against COVID-19, saying “let’s together kick the coronavirus away and win this match… if the virus don’t go to Zlatan, Zlatan goes to the virus!”
Ibrahimovic is a world-class athlete and no doubt has the immune system and motivation to beat COVID as soon as possible. While we’re not suggesting you emulate his stratospheric ego – “there is only one Zlatan” anyway – having a positive mindset could be just what you need in order to shake off illnesses.