AC Milan’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said on Sunday that he has decided to retire at the age of 41 following a trophy-laden career at some of Europe’s greatest clubs. Zlatan’s contract expires at the end of June and will not be renewed following an injury-plagued season that has forced him to call it quits on a spectacular career.
Ibrahimovic returned to Milan in early 2020 for his second stint, having won the Scudetto with them in 2011, and helping them win the title again last season. “I say goodbye to football but not to you,” he remarked after being feted by the San Siro crowd following Milan’s 3-1 season-ending triumph over Hellas Verona.
ZLATAN’s TROPHY LADEN CAREER
Zlatan began his professional career with Malmo FF in 1999 and moved on to Ajax Amsterdam in 2001 before continuing his career with Manchester United, Inter Milan, and Milan. Ibrahimovic returned to Milan in early 2020 for his second stint, having won the Scudetto with them in 2011, and helping them win it again last season.
With 62 goals in 121 matches, Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s all-time leading scorer. He left the national team after Euro 2016, but returned in 2021 for their disappointing World Cup qualification campaign.
EMOTIONAL PRESS CONFERENCE
“I thank the journalists for your patience, now you’ll have less work to do without me … From tomorrow, I am a free man from this world of football,” Ibrahimovic told reporters in a press conference after the announcement he was retiring.
“It was a long career, really long, thank you to everyone who gave me the strength, the adrenaline and the emotion to continue.”
Ibrahimovic dodged inquiries about his retirement plans, declining to provide any information.
“For the moment, I just want to take some time and enjoy what I’ve done. It’s not right to make decisions in a hurry, there’s too much emotion right now. I want to take the summer off, reflect and then we’ll see.”
When asked who could replace Ibrahimovic, he was unambiguous.
“Impossible, there is only one Zlatan! As a child, they compared me to (former Netherlands striker) Marco van Basten, but he is who he is and I am who I am.
“There might be similarities, but I don’t think comparisons are right. I doubt we’d find another Zlatan with my ego…”
He ended the news conference by confessing that it had been an emotional evening.
“I could not have dreamed of a night like this. From the first day, I felt at home with Milan, the old and the new version. When I leave here, I will miss it a great deal. Today, they dragged the real Ibrahimovic out.”