By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Swedish football legend, Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from football on Sunday, 4 June, 2023, after AC Milan final match of the Serie A season.
Ibrahimovic on the San Siro pitch following Milan’s 3-1 win over Verona, said: “It’s the moment to say goodbye to football, not just to you.”
He is renowned for his acrobatic strikes and volleys, powerful long-range shots, and excellent technique and ball control. He is regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time and is one of the most decorated active footballers in the world, [a] having won 34 trophies in his career.
Ibrahimović has scored over 570 career goals, including more than 500 club goals, and has scored in each of the last four decades.
He began his career at Malmö FF in 1999, and signed for Ajax two years later, where he gained a reputation as one of the most promising forwards in Europe.
Ibrahimovic departed Ajax two years later to sign for Juventus before joining domestic rivals Inter Milan in 2006, where he won three consecutive Serie A titles.
In the summer of 2009, he moved to Barcelona in one of the world’s most expensive transfers. After just one season, he returned to Italy having signed for Inter’s rival Milan. With them, he won the Serie A title in his debut season.
In 2012, Ibrahimović joined Paris Saint-Germain, leading them to their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years and soon establishing himself as a leading figure in their dominance of French football.
During his four-season stay in France, he won four consecutive Ligue 1 titles, was the top scorer in Ligue 1 for three seasons and became PSG’s all-time leading goal scorer at the time. In 2016, he joined Manchester United on a free transfer and won his first European honour in his debut season. Ibrahimović joined American club LA Galaxy in 2018 and rejoined Milan in 2020, winning his fifth Serie A title in 2022.
Ibrahimović is one of eleven players to have made 100 or more appearances for the Swedish national team, over a 20-year international career. He is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals. He represented Sweden at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, as well as the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 UEFA European Championships.
He has been awarded Guldbollen (the Golden Ball), given to the Swedish player of the year, a record 12 times, including 10 consecutive times from 2007 to 2016.
Ibrahimović’s 35-yard bicycle kick goal for Sweden against England won the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award and is often considered one of the best goals of all time.
Ibrahimović was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2013 and the UEFA Team of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014. He finished at a peak of fourth for the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2013.
In 2015, UEFA included him as one of the best players that have not won the UEFA Champions League, while in 2019, FourFourTwo magazine named him the third-greatest player never to win the competition.
In December 2014, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter ranked him the second-greatest Swedish sportsperson ever, after tennis player, Björn Borg.
Source: The Punch