Ibrahimović was born in Malmö, Sweden, on 3 October 1981.
Ibrahimović signed his first contract with Malmö in 1996.
Ibrahimović was eligible to represent Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatia at international level; he chose Sweden. He made his debut for Sweden in a 0–0 friendly draw against the Faroe Islands at Tipshallen on 31 January 2001 during the 2000–01 Nordic Football Championship.
Arsène Wenger unsuccessfully tried to persuade Ibrahimović to join Arsenal, while Leo Beenhakker (the technical director of Ajax) also expressed interest in the player after watching him in a friendly against Norwegian side Moss FK. On 22 March 2001, a deal between Ajax and Malmö regarding Ibrahimović's transfer to Amsterdam was announced, and in July, Ibrahimović officially joined Ajax for 80 million Swedish kronor (€8.7 million).
On 7 October 2001, he played his first competitive match, a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, scoring his first ever international goal in a 3–0 win as Sweden topped their group to qualify for the upcoming tournament.
Ibrahimović received little playing time under manager Co Adriaanse, but when Adriaanse was sacked on 29 November 2001, new coach Ronald Koeman inserted Ibrahimović into the starting lineup as Ajax won the 2001–02 Eredivisie title. The next season.
On 18 August 2004, during an international match against the Netherlands, Ibrahimović injured Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart, who later accused Ibrahimović of hurting him intentionally. This led to Ibrahimović's sudden sale to Juventus on 31 August.
Ibrahimović moved from Ajax to Juventus for €16 million. He was promptly inserted into the starting eleven due in part to top scorer David Trezeguet's injury problems, and scored 16 goals. The club finished top of Serie A, and in the Champions League they reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out by eventual champions Liverpool.in November 2005, he was awarded the Guldbollen, a prize awarded to the best Swedish footballer of the year.
On 10 August 2006, Ibrahimović completed a €24.8 million move to Inter Milan, signing a four-year-deal, this coming only a few days after 30-year-old midfielder Patrick Vieira had completed his own transfer from Juve to the Nerazzurri. Ibrahimović revealed that he had supported Inter when he was young.
Ibrahimović made his debut for Inter on 26 August 2006 against Roma in the 2006 Supercoppa Italiana, playing the full 90 minutes as Inter won after extra time.
He scored in his Serie A debut against Fiorentina on 9 September as Inter commenced the league with a 3–2 win at Stadio Artemio Franchi.
In his first Champions League appearance for Inter, Ibrahimović was not able to avoid the 1–0 away defeat to Sporting CP as Inter began their European campaign in the wrong way.
Ibrahimović played his 100th Serie A match on 16 September 2007 at the San Siro against Catania, where he appeared as a second-half substitute for Hernán Crespo in an eventual 2–0 win.
Ibrahimović scored both goals in a 2–0 defeat of Parma on the final day of the 2007–08 Serie A season to give Inter a second consecutive Scudetto. Overall, he scored 17 goals in 26 league matches, and was named both Serie A Footballer of the Year and Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year.
On 4 October, during the match against Bologna at home which Inter won 2–1, Ibrahimović scored a sensational goal, stunning Francesco Antonioli with an irresistible backheeled shot from Adriano's left-wing cross. The goal was later voted Goal of the Year in Serie A.
Ibrahimović ended the 2008–09 Serie A season as the league's top goalscorer with 25 goals.
After Inter teammate Maxwell completed his transfer to Barcelona, Barça president Joan Laporta confirmed that there was an agreement in principle between Barcelona and Inter for Ibrahimović to join the club in exchange for striker Samuel Eto'o, plus a reported fee of £59 million. Ibrahimović left Inter during their United States summer tour in the World Football Challenge on 23 July 2009 for negotiations with Barcelona.
After Inter agreed terms with Eto'o and Barcelona with Ibrahimović, Barcelona announced Ibrahimović would arrive on 26 July 2009.
Ibrahimović passed his medical and was presented to a crowd of over 60,000 at Camp Nou. He signed a five-year contract, for €46 million and the exchange of Eto'o (valued at €20 million) and loan of Alexander Hleb (with an option to purchase for a €10 million fee), with a €250 million release clause, making Ibrahimović worth €66 million. The Hleb deal, however, collapsed. Eventually, Ibrahimović cost Barcelona €69.884 million, which included other fees.
Ibrahimović started the 2009–10 season with his competitive debut for Barcelona on 23 August 2009 by assisting a Lionel Messi goal, leading them to the Supercopa de España, beating Athletic Bilbao 5–1 on aggregate.
In his next competitive match, Barcelona won the 2009 UEFA Super Cup with a 1–0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
On 20 October, he scored his first Champions League goal for Barcelona in a group stage match against Rubin Kazan.
On 7 November, however, he suffered a thigh injury that kept him out for three weeks.
Barcelona capped off 2009 by winning the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes on 19 December 2009.
He scored his final goal for Barcelona in the 2010 Supercopa de España on 14 August in a 3–1 defeat against Sevilla.
On 25 August, Ibrahimović played his last match for the club against Milan for the Joan Gamper Trophy,
On 28 August 2010, A.C. Milan announced via their official website that they had signed Ibrahimović for the 2010–11 season. He was loaned out to Milan for the season, with the club having the option to purchase him outright for €24 million at the end of the season.
All agreements between Milan and Barcelona were confirmed on 18 June 2011.
He finished the season as Serie A top scorer with 28 goals in 32 matches.
On 17 July 2012, Paris Saint-Germain confirmed that they had reached an agreement to acquire the sporting and economic rights of Ibrahimović from Milan, having already agreed personal terms with the striker, for a transfer fee of €20 million. Valued at €180 million, these combined fees eclipsed those commanded by Nicolas Anelka. His three-year contract would see him receive a net annual salary of €14 million including bonuses (which would be €2 million more than what he was earning per year just before he left Milan), and make him the second best paid footballer in the world behind Samuel Eto'o. The following day, Ibrahimović signed the contract.
On 24 September, it was announced that Ibrahimović had extended his contract with PSG, which would see him stay at the club until 2016.
On 14 November 2012, he scored all four goals in a 4–2 win over England in the first ever match at the Friends Arena. His fourth goal, a 35-yard overhead kick with his back to goal, won him praise from players and pundits, with the BBC describing it as a goal that "combined unfathomable imagination and expert technique". It would win the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year.
On 11 August 2014, Ibrahimović paid US$51,000 to send the Swedish national football team for the intellectually disabled to the INAS World Football Championships in Brazil.
On 21 June 2016, Ibrahimović announced that he would retire from international football immediately after Sweden's last match at Euro 2016.
On 1 July 2016, Ibrahimović signed as a free agent for Manchester United on a one-year contract, which had the option of being extended depending on his performance for the club.
On 20 April, Ibrahimović sustained serious ligament damage in his right knee in a Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht at Old Trafford.
Ibrahimović won his first major European title when Manchester United defeated Ajax in the Europa League Final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.
On 24 August 2017, it was announced that Ibrahimović had signed a new one-year contract with Manchester United. It was also announced that he would be wearing number 10 in his second season with the team.
On 23 March 2018, Ibrahimović signed for Major League Soccer (MLS) club LA Galaxy.
On 31 March, in his second appearance of the season, Ibrahimović scored two goals from the penalty spot, including one Panenka-style, in a 2–1 home win over the Portland Timbers. With this he reached 515 career goals, overtaking fellow countryman Gunnar Nordahl to become the Swedish player with the most goals in football history.
On 20 July, Ibrahimović scored a perfect hat-trick against Los Angeles FC to win the match 3–2. This performance followed a debate on whether Ibrahimović was the best player in MLS compared to Los Angeles FC rival Carlos Vela, with Ibrahimović claiming himself the "best by far".
Ibrahimović scored a second hat-trick of the season on 15 September, in a 7–2 win against Sporting Kansas City.
On 13 November 2019, Ibrahimović announced he was to leave the LA Galaxy through his Twitter account, telling Galaxy fans "[Y]ou wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues...Now go back to watch baseball".
On 27 December 2019, Ibrahimović returned to Milan on a free transfer on a six-month contract until the end of the season, with an option to extend his contract until the end of the 2020–21 season, subject to certain conditions.
Ibrahimović scored his first goal for Milan since returning on 11 January, in a 2–0 away win against Cagliari.
On 26 January, Ibrahimović was involved in a confrontation with former Manchester United teammate Romelu Lukaku in Milan's Coppa Italia quarter-final match against Inter. Following a foul committed by Lukaku late in the first half, he and Ibrahimović could be heard exchanging insults as the pair clashed heads and had to be restrained by their respective teammates.
Ibrahimović scored another brace in a 4–0 win over Crotone on 7 February, reaching the milestone of 500 and 501 total club career goals in the process.
On 22 April, Ibrahimović signed a new contract extension to stay with the side for another season.