Who Plays Zava in Ted Lasso? Is Zava Based on a Real Footballer?

Apple TV+’s ‘Ted Lasso’ is a sports comedy series that follows the titular American football coach on his exploits in the English Premier League. The show’s third season sees AFC Richmond returning to the top tier of the English football system thanks to the hard work of the players and coaches in season 2. However, to ensure their success in the Premier League, owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) persuades mercurial but attention-seeking star player Zava to join AFC Richmond. Naturally, viewers must be wondering if Zava is based on a real footballer. In that case, here is everything you need to know about Zava’s real-life counterpart! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Who Plays Zava in Ted Lasso?

Zava is introduced in the second episode of ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, titled ‘(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea.’ In the episode, Leslie (Jeremey Swift) learns about Zava becoming a free agent. Zava is a world-class striker who was previously playing for the Italian giants Juventus in Serie A. However, Zava and his wife are seeking a change of scenery, leading to the forward seeking a move to a club in London. However, Zava is known for being flamboyant, outspoken, and a bit of a diva. Nonetheless, despite being in the twilight of his career, there is no argument that Zava will improve any team he joins. As a result, AFC Richmond tries to sign Zava to bolster their ranks and hopes of surviving relegation in the new season.

In the series, Austrian-born American actor Maximilian Osinski essays the role of Zava. He was raised in Chicago but moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting. Osinski made his screen debut in the 2007 drama movie ‘Running Funny.’ He gained recognition with a small role in the 2010 romantic-comedy film ‘Love & Other Drugs’ starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in the lead roles. Osinski is arguably best known for his recurring role as Agent Davis in the Marvel Comics-based superhero television series ‘Agents of SHIELD.’ His other credits include shows such as ‘Shameless,’ ‘New Amsterdam,’ and ‘The Walking Dead: World Beyond.’ Osinski is expected to appear in a recurring capacity in the third season of ‘Ted Lasso.’

Is Zava Based on a Real Footballer?

Given ‘Ted Lasso’ features the name and IPs of several real-life Premier League clubs, viewers must wonder if Zava is also based on a real footballer. While there is no real footballer named Zava, the character is most obviously based on the Swedish star striker Zlatan Ibrahimović. For starters, Zava sports a trademark ponytail look which Ibrahimović is also known for, among other recognizable facial features. Moreover, Zava is also outspoken like Ibrahimović, and both footballers are known for referring to themselves in the third person. Lastly, Ibrahimović is also a talismanic center forward known for his goal-scoring abilities and is in the latter stages of his career.

Interestingly, like Zava, Ibrahimović also played for Juventus, albeit in the earlier stages of his career. Ibrahimović came through the ranks of the Swedish professional football club Malmö FF, making his senior debut in the 1999 season, aged just 17. In 2001, Ibrahimović transferred to the Dutch team Ajax where he scored 48 goals in 110 appearances before leaving for Juventus in 2004. Ibrahimović’s tenure at Juventus lasted only two seasons, but he won two consecutive league titles with the team (which were revoked following a scandal).

Ibrahimović moved to Inter Milan in 2006 before he was sold to Spanish giants FC Barcelona for a fee reported worth £59 million, and player Samuel Eto’o moved in the opposite direction. While Ibrahimović scored 22 goals in all competitions for Barcelona in his first season, he had a falling out with manager Pep Guardiola. It led to Ibrahimović moving to AC Milan on loan and later permanently. Ibrahimović reached pragmatic heights at AC Milan, followed by a five-year spell in Paris with PSG (Paris Saint-Germain). He has won twelve league titles scoring over five hundred goals across his career. Ibrahimović has represented Sweden in international competitions since the age of 19.

Similar to Ibrahimović, Zava is described as a journeyman, having played for fourteen teams in fifteen years. Moreover, Zava is known for winning several trophies and accolades. Like Zava, Ibrahimović also played in the Premier League, spending two seasons with Manchester United. He later moved to LA Galaxy before joining his former team AC Milan where he currently plays. Ibrahimović is presently the oldest-ever goalscorer in Serie A at 41 years and 166 days. Thus, Zava’s career trajectory loosely resembles Zlatan Ibrahimović, and the former’s personality is modeled after the Swedish star striker who is still going strong at 41 years of young.

Read More: Why Did Roy Kent Leave Chelsea in Ted Lasso, Explained

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