Alexander Isak turned around, took a few confident strides and pointed at an imaginary watch on his wrist.
He had just scored his first competitive goal for Sweden. Evidently not overawed by the moment, Isak had the awareness to realise it had only been 10 minutes since he had come off the bench.
And he wanted to make a point about it. Now, what Swedish striker does that remind you of? It is not hard to understand why Isak has so often been compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Alexander Isak is helping Real Sociedad mount an unlikely title challenge in Spain
The young striker has been compared with his compatriot Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right)
Not only does he resemble Ibrahimovic physically – only two inches separate them in height and they both have a lean frame – but he also shares his ruthless touch in front of goal and the brash persona to match.
‘It was a bit cocky of me,’ he admitted after the match – a 3-0 win over Malta in a Euro 2020 qualifier. ‘I wanted to show people that it didn’t take me long. You have to back yourself.’
Being compared to someone like Ibrahimovic, one of the best strikers in the past two decades who has won trophies all over Europe, typically brings immense pressure with it.
There have been countless of prodigies through the years who have had their careers derailed before they’ve even begun because of the struggle to bear the weight of expectation, but Isak does not seem to be one of them.
On Friday, Isak was subjected to racist taunts as Sweden beat Romania 2-0 in Bucharest
He was determined not to let abuse stop him and led celebrations as Sweden made Euro 2020
‘I’ve been compared to Zlatan a lot of times, it’s nothing that concerns me. I just want to be myself, do my best, and we’ll see where it leads,’ he said recently.
A well-measured take on it for someone who is still only 20 years of age. His career may only be in its infancy, but for those in the know, it feels like Isak has been around for a while.
And he has shown an impressive level of of maturity. He was subjected to racist abuse during Sweden’s 2-0 win over Romania on Friday in Bucharest and the game was stopped while a stadium announcement was made.
‘I don’t let things like that affect me in that way,’ Isak said afterwards. ‘It’s better to ignore it. There will always be idiots around, it’s better not to give them the attention they are looking for.’
The young striker first raced on to the scene four years ago as a 16-year-old after a prolific season in his homeland with AIK.
And it wasn’t long after that that he caught the attention of the European powerhouses. Real Madrid were monitoring him closely along with Borussia Dortmund and a number of Premier League clubs.
He began the following season in the same vein of scoring form and it was then that the famed comparison with Ibrahimovic was first made.
He scored his first competitive goal for Sweden in a 3-0 victory against Malta last month
After scoring a brace to help AIK defeat their arch-rivals Djurgardens IF, his team-mate Chinedu Obasi said he was destined to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot. No pressure then.
It quickly became the consensus as Isak continued to score at an impressive rate. Madrid approached him two years ago when he was still only 17, but the youngster turned them down in favour of joining Borussia Dortmund for £8million – a deal which was the most expensive in the history of the Allsvenskan.
Isak packed his bags, left his family in Sweden and made the move south. When he arrived in Germany, he had still been going to school, but decided to sacrifice his education to concentrate on his career at Dortmund.
It was a decision he didn’t want to make, but felt it was necessary. He spent much of his first year playing for Dortmund’s reserves but did manage to make six first-team appearances.
Isak turned down Real Madrid as a youngster after racing on to the scene aged 16 at AIK
In his second season, Isak wasn’t even named in any Bundesliga squads but bagged his first goal for the club in a 5-0 victory over Magdeburg in the DFB-Pokal.
Frustrated by the lack of senior action, Isak left on loan in January earlier this year to join Willem II.
In a mediocre Willem II side, Isak scored 14 goals in 18 games during his six months in Holland – a league Ibrahimovic was ripping up at a similar age with Ajax.
Despite showing real promise during his loan, it was not enough to convince Dortmund that he was worth keeping.
The German giants put him up in the shop window this summer, and he was not short of potential suitors.
The striker joined Borussia Dortmund two years ago but failed to break into their first team
Eventually he settled on Real Sociedad, who had promised he would play an important role despite having a number of quality strikers in their ranks.
The 20-year-old has since made a bright start to his career in Spain and doesn’t seem to have been knocked after failing to make the grade at Dortmund.
He has not yet been able to show the kind of scoring form he did last season in Holland, but has played a key part in Real Sociedad’s rise up to fifth in La Liga – featuring in every league game so far.
The Sweden international has scored twice for Sociedad – who are only two points behind league leaders Barcelona – and is getting regular minutes. The fact he is playing so often with the likes of Willian Jose around, who is the club’s fifth-highest foreign goalscorer, shows how valued he is by Sociedad.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a prolific loan spell in Holland with Willem II earlier this year
Dortmund have been watching him closely since his move away, having included a £25m buyback clause in the deal this summer, and there are growing fears already that they may have made an error in letting Isak slip through their grasp.
The youngster looks to have found a real home in Spain and is beginning to show even more signs of his potential.
Isak already has 20 senior goals to his name – one for each year – which is eerily close to the figure Ibrahimovic had at the same stage of his career.
The youngster has shown he has the talent and self-belief to go on to be one of Europe’s hottest strikers, and he’s got the time on his side too.
Isak has put his Dortmund disappointment behind him to make a bright start at Sociedad