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Zlatan Ibrahimovic retires: Football icon breaks down in tears as he makes announcement

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has retired from football with immediate effect aged 41.

The football icon cut a tearful figure as he made the announcement following AC Milan’s final match of the 2022/23 Serie A season.

In a glittering playing spanning 24 years, Ibrahimovic leaves as one of the game’s greats having won 34 trophies.

He began at Malmo in his native Sweden before joining Dutch outfit Ajax in 2001 aged 19.

Ibrahimovic won the Eredivisie title in his first season in Amsterdam and his mesmerising slaloming goal against NAC Breda in August 2004 is a strike that frequently does the rounds on social media to this day.

His impressive form for Ajax and with Sweden in Euro 2004 earned him a move to Italian giants Juventus, finishing top scorer of Serie A in his first season. However, he left a year later following the club’s involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

Inter Milan was his next destination and he helped them to three straight league titles as well as two Suppercoppa Italianas.

He was then rewarded with a high-profile move to Barcelona in 2009 and although he helped them to LaLiga success, Ibrahimovic’s spell in Catalonia came to an abrupt end amid a well-publicised falling out with Pep Guardiola.

With that, Ibrahimovic returned to Milan but joined Inter’s rivals AC Milan and helped them to Serie A and Suppercoppa Italiana success in the 2010/11 season.

After the Qatari takeover of Paris Saint-Germain, Ibrahimovic joined the French side in July 2012 where he won four straight Ligue 1 titles.

Ibrahimovic also spent time in England, representing Manchester United for two years. He won two trophies at Old Trafford – the League Cup and Europa League – in his first season at the club.

An adventure in America followed as he signed for MLS club LA Galaxy, and although he had no silverware to show for his efforts he made an impact on the league immediately with his first goal for the club seeing him incredibly strike the ball into the net from 35 yards out.

He spent the remaining four years of his career back at Milan, helping them to another Scudetto title, their first in 11 years, in the 2021/22 season. A lack of a Champions League winners’ medal was the only notable ‘failure’ of his amazing career.

Ibrahimovic won 122 caps for Sweden, scoring 62 goals.

He also boasts a number of individual honours to his name, including the Puskas Award, for an incredible overhead kick against England.

Ibrahimovic also scooped three Serie A Footballer of the Year awards, three Ligue 1 Player of the Year awards, and places in Milan and PSG’s Hall of Fame.

Amid all the brilliance on the pitch, there was also arguably the game’s greatest character in Ibrahimovic.

From the early years of his career he was a great maverick of the game having reportedly turned down a move to Arsenal as he felt going on trial for a contract was beneath him, uttering the iconic words: “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”

 

Ibrahimovic even got his own word included in the Swedish dictionary. In 2012, the verb Zlatanera (to Zlatan) was included, meaning ‘to dominate’.

In classic Ibrahimovic style, he responded to the Hellas Verona fans who booed him as he made his retirement announcement: “Keep booing. This is the biggest moment in your year seeing me.”

 

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