AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed Friday how he had to hitch a motorbike ride to avoid missing Italy’s legendary Sanremo musical festival where he was performing a duet with Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
The 39-year-old has been a guest presenter at the five-day festival on Italy’s Ligurian coast but, despite an injury, returned to Milan midweek to be present in the stands for his team’s 1-1 draw against Udinese.
After training and treatments, he headed back to Sanremo but got stuck in a traffic jam caused by an accident on the motorway, the Swede told a press conference.
“After three hours in the car I told my driver to open the door to let me out. I stopped a motorcyclist and asked him, ‘can you take me to Sanremo?’,” he recounted.
“I know, it seems incredible. I made the video because otherwise no one would have believed me.
“Did I take a risk? Maybe yes, but I’m not afraid to take risks and I couldn’t do anything else to get there in time.
“Only two people witnessed the scene, the driver and a friend. They gave me a GPS to locate me, in case the motorcyclist had taken me who knows where.”
‘No Ibra, I’m driving’
Ibrahimovic and long-term Serbian friend Mihajlovic, 52, who has recently battled leukemia, then performed the 1970s Italian hit song ‘La Vagabondo’ on stage.
The rider, identified as Franco, told Radio Monte Carlo on Friday that Ibrahimovic had wanted to ride the bike himself over the 60km to Sanremo.
“I was returning home and, while I was stopped in traffic, I saw this black van. There were two people and one looked like Ibrahimovic. So I thought: ‘But this is Ibra!’ he recalled.
“At that point the driver lowered the window and told me: ‘Ibra asks if you can take him to Sanremo’. ‘Of course I will take him! No problem’.
“I had a helmet under the saddle. I called my wife and told her that I would accompany Ibrahimovic to Sanremo. She didn’t believe me.
“I am a Sunday biker and I had never taken the motorway on the motorbike. He wanted to drive himself, but I said to him: ‘No Ibra, I’m driving’.
“I’m also an AC Milan fan, he told me that he will send me his jersey.”
More than 10 million Italians tune in each year for the Sanremo festival, an annual Who’s Who of Italian pop music, involving both well-known stars from decades past as well as new talent.
But often the music is not the main draw of the event known in Italy just as “the Festival” — the cringe-worthy moments and bad outfits are also a key part of the entertainment.