West News Wire: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swedish striker for AC Milan, announced his decision to end his playing career at the age of 41 following a trophy-laden career at some of Europe’s greatest clubs.
Ibrahimovic will complete a fantastic career when his Milan contract expires at the end of June and is not renewed due to a season marred by injury.
The Swede, who previously helped Milan win the Scudetto with them in 2011 and again last season, returned to Milan in early 2020 for a second stint.
He was applauded by the San Siro crowd after Milan’s 3-1 victory over Hellas Verona on Sunday in their season-ending match. “I say goodbye to football but not to you,” he remarked.
“When I first arrived, you brought me joy, and when I returned, you brought me love. I appreciate the tolerance of my family and friends, and I thank them.
The charismatic attacker began his professional career in 1999 with Malmo FF and departed for Ajax Amsterdam in 2001. Since then, he has spent time at Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris St. Germain, Manchester United, and Milan.
The Swede has won a huge number of domestic leagues, cups, and individual awards, but he has yet to take home the Champions League trophy, which represents Europe’s top club competition.
Ibrahimovic, who is Sweden’s all-time top scorer with 62 goals in 121 matches, quit the national team after Euro 2016 but returned in 2021 for their unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign.
“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.”
In response to inquiries about his retirement plans, Ibrahimovic chose not to provide any information.
“At the moment, I just want to relax and take pleasure in what I’ve accomplished. Making judgements in a rush is wrong since there are too many strong emotions present right now. We’ll see after I take the summer off to reflect.
Ibrahimovic had a definite response when questioned about potential successors.
There is only one Zlatan, thus it’s impossible! They used to compare me to Marco van Basten, a former Netherlands striker, but he is who he is, and I am who I am, the man stated.
“There may be parallels, but I don’t believe analogies are appropriate. With my ego, I don’t think we’d find another Zlatan,” he continued.
He concluded the press conference by admitting the evening had been an emotional experience.
“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.”