Zlatan Ibrahimovic has detailed the extent of the ordeal he suffered with his knee and revealed that he has already had ‘many offers’ regarding his future.
Ibrahimovic was out for the best part of a year after having his knee basically reconstructed immediately after the Scudetto celebrations at the end of last season, but that wasn’t enough to make him retire.
Instead he completed a long recovery path and over the last few games he has been gradually increasing the amount of minutes played, with the biggest step coming on Saturday night as he started against Udinese.
He scored from the spot to become Milan and Serie A’s oldest ever scorer at the Dacia Arena and he has been called up by Sweden for their Euro 2024 qualifiers against Belgium and Azerbaijan.
There is life in the lion yet, and he spoke today at the press conference from the Swedish national training camp with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
On his son Maximillian who also plays for Milan: “The training match at Milanello was a special and fun moment. How many manage to play with their son at the highest level? He plays football and is happy. He has had the opportunity to play with me and the rest of the first team. He said he wanted to hurt me so I told the coach to put us in the same team (smiles).”
On his return to the national team: “I’ve been in contact with coach Janne Andersson all the time, both during the injury and during my rehabilitation. Janne called me several times and asked me how the situation was, I replied to all his questions. If I feel good, I’ll play and if I feel good, I’ll be there.”
On the complicated return from injury: “The problem was that the feedback wasn’t positive. I didn’t see the light that gave me energy, that gave me answers that what I’m doing is good. But then something happened and I left a room dark and everything became bright and positive. It was difficult, but I had a lot of patience.”
On the injury: “The truth is that I had three operations, not one. Then I didn’t get the response I wanted and everything became more difficult. But I was patient, I listened to the doctors. I put my fate in their hands and I followed them.”
On not being in the Champions League squad list: “I didn’t feel well when they made the list, so it’s nothing strange. Ten days later I was reborn.”
On his motivations: “Yesterday I told my national team team-mates that they’re probably wondering what I’m still doing here. They’ll think I’m stupid to still be here at 41 to play for the national team. But then I told them to wait until I’m near the end of their career and then they’ll understand why they’re still here. You don’t want to stop, you want to continue.”
On the rumours of retirement: “When everyone says it’s enough, it doesn’t work. That’s when I get an adrenaline rush. I just want to keep going. After winning the Scudetto with Milan I could have quit, but it would have been too easy. Nor was it a conclusion that suited me.
“I want to go forward, I want to challenge myself. I don’t give up. Challenges give me adrenaline. Even you journalists, since I was young, have written and said about me that I was too different, messy, self-centred. Everything. You have helped me and you are still doing it. I always have this desire inside me to show those who doubt that they are wrong.”
On his hunger: “I’m here to make a difference. If it weren’t like this, I wouldn’t be here. And I don’t want to talk about my age. I still have so much to do and I want to show all those who have given me up, that they are they are wrong.”
On being the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history: “I celebrated for scoring with Milan as the oldest player in Serie A, but I don’t want records because I’m old. I want them because it’s me, for what I do. Always these questions about my age…”
On the future: “I have many offers. But I don’t want to think about it yet because for now I only see myself as a player. Everyone asks me how I am, but you should ask 20-year-olds what they think, since I’m still playing with them.”