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What sparked Zlatan’s brutal fight which left American teammate ‘praying to God’

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is enjoying himself in the US, averaging just shy of a goal a game for LA Galaxy.

But the big Swede hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with his American teammates.

Just ask Oguchi Onyewu. The pair played together at AC Milan, between 2010 and 2011.

And according to Ibrahimovich, tensions between them boiled over into extreme violence.

Describing the 6ft 4ins centre-back as being "the size of a house", he recalled telling a friend in the squad: "Something serious is going happen. I can just feel it."

He wasn’t wrong.

Ibrahimovich said the former Standard Liege and Newcastle defender – who "people said was the nicest guy in the world" – antagonised him, accusing him of "trash-talking" to opponents during games.

Onyewu told him he wouldn’t be "psyched out" by it.

This angered 6ft 5ins Ibrahimovich, who insisted he was a man of action, not words.

In his book, I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovich , he said: "No, I retaliate with my body, not with words, and I said that to Oguchi Onyewu as well.

"He just kept on, and once when I yelled, ‘That was no free-kick!’, he shushed me with his finger, as if to say, See, you’re just talking s**t, and I thought, I’ve had enough, that’s it. ‘You pass it,’ I said.

"He shushed me again, and I saw red. I didn’t say anything, not a word. That b*****d was going to find out how I trash-talk in these situations, and the next time he got the ball I rushed towards him and jumped up with my feet and studs out in front – the worst type of tackle.

"But he saw me. He leapt out of the way and we both crashed to the ground, and my first thought was, S**t! I’ve missed. I’ll get him next time.

"Then as I got up and walked away I felt a blow to my shoulder. Not a good idea, Oguchi Onyewu.

"I headbutted him, and then we flew at each other. I’m not talking about a little scrap. We wanted to tear each other limb from limb. It was brutal. We were two guys who each weighed over 14 stone, and we were rolling round, punching and kneeing each other, and, of course, the whole team rushed over and tried to separate us.

"That wasn’t easy, not at all. We were crazy and furious, and sure, of course, I admit you need adrenaline on the pitch, you’ve got to do battle. But this crossed the line. It was like life and death.

"And the weirdest thing happened afterwards.

"Oguchi Onyewu started praying to God with tears in his eyes. He made the sign of the cross, and I thought, What is this? I got even more furious. It felt like a provocation, and at that point Allegri, the manager, came over and said, ‘Calm down, Ibra.’

"It didn’t do any good. I just moved him out of the way and ran towards Oguchi again. I was stopped by my teammates, and I suppose that was a good thing. It could have turned out nasty."

Ibrahimovich, who suffered a broken rib in the scrap, said the pair later shook hands and apologised, describing Onyewu as being "as cold as a fish" towards him.

Days later, he scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win over rivals Inter Milan, despite Marco Materazzi’s best efforts to rattle him with dirty tactics.

Ibrahimovic, now 37, is in his first season in the MLS, after a career which has seen him play for clubs including Ajax, Juventus , Inter Milan, Barcelona , Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United .

Thirty six-year-old Onyewu, who has had spells at Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton, is now playing for Philadelphia Union, in the MLS Eastern Conference.

The two could face each other if the sides meet in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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