Zlatan Ibrahimovic announces retirement from international football after Euro 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced his retirement from international football, calling time on his Swedish career after the ongoing UEFA Euro 2016. Thus, Sweden’s tie against Belgium in the final Group E UEFA Euro 2016 fixture on Wednesday night could be Zlatan’s last, unless the Swede inspires his nation to a victory over the Red Devils and earns an unlikely knockout spot.
The striker, who has been incessantly linked with Manchester United, made the revelation in a press conference ahead of the Belgium game, saying “I will finish my international career after UEFA Euro 2016. I won't participate in the Olympics. The last game (at Euro 2016) will be my last for Sweden, so I hope it will not be tomorrow. I am very proud of what I have achieved and will always bring the Swedish flag with me.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been fairly disappointing in the 2016 UEFA Euros, as he was quite anonymous on the pitch against Italy, while he did induce an own goal against the Republic of Ireland, which was Sweden’s equaliser, and their only point in the tournament so far. Sweden need to defeat Belgium to stand any chance of progressing, as even a draw could earn them 3rd place, but two points will not be enough for them to qualify as the four best 3rd placed teams.
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The former PSG striker thus faces what could potentially be his last ever game for Sweden, though there is no doubting his pedigree and legacy in Sweden’s footballing history. Ibrahimovic retires as the Blågult’s all-time top-scorer, having scored 62 times in 115 games for the national side, after overtaking Sven Rydell’ s record of 49 goals in 2014.
Zlatan had earlier played down rumours of retirement
There were rumours of Zlatan retiring circulating before the Euros began, with Swedish news outlets Expressen and Dagens Nyheter first breaking the news. However, the Swedish striker had played down the rumours, stating that his age was not a factor, saying “Age is just a number, it's all mental; if I want to do something, I will do it.”
Despite his international retirement, the 34-year old is still highly sought after by multiple clubs, with Manchester United said to be in prime position to sign him. However, since his contract with Paris St. Germain runs out on 30th June, with a hefty loyalty bonus on the line, there has been no announcement about his future in club football yet.