Zlatan Ibrahimovic described his glorious fourth goal as merely "nice" and suggested to score four for his country against England was "not bad", though perhaps the best assessment of a national talisman's remarkable display was delivered by one of Sweden's substitutes. "It was the perfect performance, Zlatan against children," Tobias Sana said. "He has been criticised in England in the past but this proves them all wrong."
English football has been braced to be scarred by Ibrahimovic for some time. The nomadic Paris St-Germain striker had previously scored four times against English opponents in 1,536 minutes – whether with the national team, Ajax, Milan, Internazionale, Barcelona or Juventus – but managed that many in 90 minutes as the Friends Arena was christened in style.
This felt a complete performance, a destruction of youthful and experimental opponents undertaken single-handedly with a goal from distance that defied belief, a free-kick dispatched with venom, a volley and a predatory finish in the six-yard box. The visitors had no answer. It was the fourth that took the breath away, the striker glancing up and weighing up his options in a split second as Joe Hart tore out of his area to head a punt clear.
"I saw him come out and had to decide whether I should go in a duel [in the air] or wait for him to head it out," Ibrahimovic said. "When he headed it I had it in my mind to try to score. I hit it in mid-air and, when I landed, saw their defender [Ryan Shawcross] running back to try to clear but it bounced over him. It was a good try, that is all. When it comes off it looks fantastic but, for me, I liked the first goal more because it was history: the first in the new arena."
Few would even have attempted that fourth, dispatched as he twisted to loop over the retreating Shawcross, with admiration for the finish shared by both managers. Roy Hodgson described it as "extraordinary". "Sometimes, when he does these things in training or in a match, you don't think it's possible," Erik Hamren said.
"Sometimes you feel you're looking at a computer game where you can do all these incredible things, because that's not possible to do that, that fourth goal. When you're working with him, often you can be surprised in training, too, because sometimes things happen that you've never seen before. I'm really lucky to have the opportunity to see him often.
"He's a true captain these days, taking care especially of the young guys. They've had him as a hero as they grew up, and now they're sitting beside him in the training camp. I saw him sitting yesterday with three of the least experienced players in the squad, after lunch, talking with them. They were just eating up his words. Listening."
They will be even more inspired now. People tend not to score four times against England, though this felt exceptional for so many reasons as Ibrahimovic, his hair let down, quietly departed.