The best thing about the peculiar English distrust of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's talents is the riposte that arrived in the Friends Arena, a selection of goals that should be shown to football apprentices from anywhere in the world to demonstrate how variety and imagination is worth its weight in striking gold. The next best thing, of course, is that he never gave a hoot about what anybody in England thought of him anyhow.
At long last, the clumsy stereotype, generated and casually booted about within these shores to jeer that he is not all he is cracked up to be, has been obliterated. Thank Zlatan for that. Admittedly the statistics were not on his side – in 90 incandescent minutes on Wednesday night he scored as many as he had previously managed against English club and national sides over a period of 1,536 minutes (the equivalent of around 17 full matches). But that particular quirk was a minor blemish on his mostly luminous record.
Ibrahimovic always has been an unusual talent. It is easy to assume that his style is largely off-the-cuff, the work of a maverick. But the way that he has harnessed his ability, the methods he has absorbed to try to make the best of his gifts, suggests that beneath the showman is a man who has learned to also appreciate efficiency.
A sporting education that took place in Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy has added that particular string to his bow. His observation during the week that Steven Gerrard might have benefitted from some overseas experiences, some broadening of horizons, was a fascinating one because of what it reflected about himself.
In some ways, his virtuosity against England summed up how he is the product of the many different football influences that have made him. Zlatan proudly wears the yellow shirt of Sweden, the country of his birth, but so much of his style is classically Balkan. The audacity, the craving for artistry and crafted skill, the machismo, the singularity, the passionate and independent spirit that has made his coaches both love him and tear their hair out – these are characteristics that are not traditionally Scandinavian.
Ibrahimovic's father is from Bosnia, and his mother from Croatia. They both emigrated, and met in Sweden, but they evidently passed on to their boy plenty of the characteristics from home.
One of Ibrahimovic's boyhood teams, FBK Balkan from the Malmo suburbs, connects the old Yugoslav flag and a Swedish flag in its crest, which sums him up well. Incidentally, he recalls once playing for them, coming on at half time when his team were losing 4-0. He scored eight goals in the second half.
Having been an apprentice with Malmo, the next stage of Ibrahimovic's footballing evolution took him to Ajax, one of the great finishing schools. Technique, technique, technique. The environment encouraged the 20-year-old to integrate his qualities with his team-mates, to play within the overall pattern of the gameplan.
It was in Amsterdam that his eye-catching performances began to make him a globally recognised name, and his next move to Italy would add further refinement. Playing in Serie A, Ibrahimovic enhanced his movement, his ability to use wit to get the better of wily defenders.
Massimiliano Allegri, the Milan coach, explained how Ibracadabra needs thoughtful management to keep him at just the right point between content and fired up: "With him, you have to use both the stick and the carrot. Ibra is a strong personality and needs to be relaxed at times, while in other occasions he has to be stimulated, otherwise he falls asleep."
Carlo Ancelotti is guiding him at the moment with Paris Saint-Germain, and it is to Ibrahimovic's credit that he is not swanning around the French capital enjoying his gigantic wages and treating the move as a glorified payday. He is in scorching form for PSG and is likely to lead them to the title (in what would be, astonishingly, his ninth championship win in 10 seasons with six different clubs).
If you wish to pick holes in Ibrahimovic's career, the season he spent at the Camp Nou is the closest to a disappointment. It was an experiment that didn't spark, and he resembled a square peg in a round hole more often than not. He still ended up with a Spanish championship medal and a contribution of 16 goals from 29 games.
It was around this time that he needed a pick-me-up, both for club and country. It is sometimes forgotten than Ibrahimovic's love affair with the Swedish national team has not been a constant. In October 2009, he retired from the international game for the best part of a year, abstaining because he felt tired of it all. Sweden's failure to qualify for the World Cup in 2010 left him so disillusioned he wanted time out. "After that last match when we didn't qualify for the World Cup, I felt like I'd lost my breath," he explained. "I had no motivation."
Erik Hamrén coaxed him out of his funk, promising unswerving love and support, and the captaincy, if he would think about returning to the fold. The only condition was that Ibrahimovic had to be happy to be there. No moaning allowed.
"It's no use people turning up for work like Eeyore the donkey," the coach said. "Sure, Eeyore is a good friend. But he's always sad and walks around with his head down. I would much rather my players were like Winnie the Pooh, who is bright and cheerful and believes anything is possible. It's all about attitude – if you play for Sweden, you play with your heart and with a smile on your face."
Ibrahimovic was all that, and more, in his wondershow against England. As Hodgson's shellshocked defenders could testify, as well as possessing outlandish skill, he is a mountain of a man as well, and teak tough. In his teens he became a black belt in taekwondo, and at one stage thought about jacking in football to work at the Malmo docks.
If there are by some chance any English critics out there who have not yet been won over, what on earth is there not to like?