Zlatan Ibrahimovic told Milan fans on Sunday evening that he will retire from football, announcing to the San Siro that “the time has come to say goodbye to football.”
On Sunday evening, as Milan’s season ended with a victory over Verona, Ibrahimovic made the announcement that his career is over.
Speaking over the loudspeaker system inside San Siro, Zlatan Ibrahimovic spoke emotionally: “So many memories and emotions inside this stadium. The first time I arrived you gave me happiness, the second time, you gave me love. It’s time to say goodbye to football.”
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The iconic Swedish striker, 41, emerged at Swedish club Malmo in the late 1990s before breaking out in a mainstream way at Ajax.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 48 goals in three seasons with the Dutch giants before moving to Juventus. An impressive start in Italy was derailed by the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal that saw Juve relegated. Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the switch to Inter Milan where he won a hat-trick of Scudetti.
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer of 2009, with Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o going the other way along with a fee of £59M. By any reckoning, this made him one of the most expensive signings in history. However, Ibrahimovic clashed with Guardiola and struggled to find his place in the complex, balletic system being played at Barcelona.
Although he had scored 21 goals in 45 appearances as Barcelona won the league, the following season he was loaned out to Milan.
He scored four goals for Sweden against England, including an immortality-ensuring bicycle kick from outside the area, in a 2012 friendly match. Those exploits earned him more widespread recognition.
So too, did his personality. Ibrahimovic gradually emerged as a larger-than-life figure through his career. His 2011 memoir, titled I am Zlatan, helped to create a cult of personality around him. He became as popular for his attitude and character as for his immense footballing ability.
In Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued to pile up goals and trophies but in the summer of 2012 he moved again. This time, Ibrahimovic headed to Ligue 1 to become the face of the newly-enriched Paris Saint-Germain.
As PSG’s talisman, Ibrahimovic scored 156 goals in 180 games and won 12 trophies.
After setting records in Paris, the giant Swede moved to Manchester United where he scored 28 goals in his debut season as the Red Devils won the Europa League and League Cup. However, a serious knee injury curtailed his career in England and helped pave the way to another transfer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then 36, headed next to the United States to play for MLS club Los Angeles Galaxy. In typical form, Ibrahimovic took out an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times which read “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome” to celebrate his arrival. He scored 52 goals in 56 games in the USA before returning to Europe with Milan.
In four seasons back in Serie A, Ibrahimovic scored 37 goals and helped the Rossoneri to win their first league title since he had left to join PSG.
An ACL injury cut his penultimate season short, and he was only able to make a handful of appearances in this campaign.