Ibrahimović was born in Sweden to a Bosnian father who emigrated to Sweden in 1977, Šefik Ibrahimović, and a Croatian mother, Jurka Gravić, who also emigrated to Sweden, where they first met. Ibrahimović grew up in Rosengård, a Malmö neighbourhood known for its immigrant communities, along with his three sisters and two brothers.
After receiving a pair of football boots, Ibrahimović began playing football at the age of six, alternating between local junior clubs Malmö BI and FBK Balkan. He has stated in an interview that while his team was down 4–0 during halftime, he came on as a substitute for his Balkan youth team and dramatically scored eight goals. While in his early teens, he was a regular for his hometown club Malmö FF. At the age of 15, Ibrahimović was close to quitting his football career, in favour of working at the docks in Malmö, but his manager convinced him to continue playing. Ibrahimović successfully completed junior high school in the ninth grade. Though he was admitted to Borgarskolan and had above average grades, he soon dropped out of high school to focus on his football career.