Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the legendary AC Milan and Sweden striker, has announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 41.
The Scandinavian striker, regarded as one of the greatest strikers of his period and one of Sweden’s greatest-ever players, appeared in just four games for Milan during an injury-plagued 2022-23 season.
Ibrahimovic was out for months following knee surgery, but he returned for four Serie A games in February and March, starting and scoring in a 3-1 loss to Udinese on March 18.
That goal made the 41-year-old the oldest player to ever score in Italy’s top division, but he was forced to leave the pitch soon after owing to hamstring and calf ailments.
Ibrahimovic’s contract at San Siro expires at the end of the month, and the club had already declared that the Swede would leave for the second time when it expired.
Ibrahimovic initially stated a wish to continue playing beyond the summer, but in a sad ceremony on the San Siro field, he declared his retirement.
Following their 3-1 Serie A final-day triumph over Hellas Verona, the striker addressed his colleagues and the audience, saying:
“The first time we arrived at Milan you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love.”
“From my heart I want to thank you fans. You welcomed me with open arms, you made me feel at home. I will be a Milan fan for the whole It’s time to say goodbye to football, not you.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to
Ibrahimovic’s retirement brings to a close a successful and often contentious career in Europe and beyond, during which he won an astounding 32 major awards.
The Swede made his debut with Malmo before joining Ajax in 2001, where he won two Eredivisie titles, one Dutch Cup, and one Dutch Super Cup before joining Juventus three years later.
Ibrahimovic only stayed at the Old Lady for two years before leaving for Inter Milan after they were relegated to Serie B in 2006, where he won three consecutive Serie A titles between 2007 and 2009.
Ibrahimovic was afterwards signed by Barcelona for €69.5 million (£59.8 million), where he won the Club World Cup and La Liga title before returning to Milan for the first time, initially on a season-long loan, in 2011.
After a trophy-laden four-year time at Paris Saint-Germain, where he scored 156 goals and won three Ligue 1 Golden Boots, Ibrahimovic reunited with Jose Mourinho for a two-year run at Manchester United between 2016 and 2018.
Ibrahimovic returned to Milan in 2020 after rekindling his scoring touch at LA Galaxy, winning another Serie A title in the 2021-22 season, but he quits without ever having won the Champions League.
Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s all-time leading men’s goalscorer with 62 goals in 122 caps, and he also ranks sixth in his country’s all-time appearance list.
His incredible overhead kick against England in 2012 earned him the Puskas Award, and he made his final game for Sweden in March’s Euro 2024 qualification loss to Belgium.
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