Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits Manchester United injury spurred him to ‘keep going’ for as long as he can as 39-year-old AC Milan striker and Serie A top scorer hopes to maintain excellent start to the season
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored an incredible 10 league goals from just six games
- The Swede’s goals have helped lift AC Milan back to the top of Italian football
- But despite retirement talk in the summer he wants to play as long as possible
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed that his desire to keep on playing as long as possible has been key to him still performing at his best late in his career.
With 10 goals already from just six games, the former Sweden international is also top scorer in Serie A and is showing no signs of slowing down despite being approaching the end of his career at the elite end of the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has enjoyed a stunning start to the season with AC Milan at the age of 39
The Swedish striker is top scorer in Serie A having netted 10 goals in just six games this term
But Ibrahimovic admits he is not thinking about retirement while he is still able to compete and claims that a serious ligament injury that kept him out for seven months while at United in 2017 has inspired him to keep going for as long as he can.
‘After my injury I said to myself that as long as I can play football I want to play,’ he told the BBC.
‘But when you play on this level it’s all about performance. If you perform, if you bring results, then you are still on the top level.
The Swede looked to have suffered a career ending injury while at Manchester United in 2017
The ligament injury kept the striker out for seven months but has convinced him to keep going
Ibrahimovic is back for his second spell at the Milan club, hoping to restore them to their former glories and end a 10-year wait for a league title.
The Swede was part of the side that last won Serie A in 2011 while on loan from Barcelona ahead of staying for another season on a permanent deal before departing for Paris Saint-Germain following 61 games and 42 goals
Although he admits the club is now a different challenge to the one he left in 2012, he is aware that he cannot live on past glories or reputation and that he is motivated to play to his very best to keep his place in the side.
‘As soon as you don’t do that someone else will come and they will perform, he added. ‘I like that pressure because I don’t want to be here because of what I’ve done before. I’m here because of what I do at the present time and that is the pressure I put on myself.
Ibrahimovic’s goals have helped fire AC Milan back to the summit of Italian football again
AC Milan are looking to end a 10-year wait for a league title – last won when Ibrahimovic (right, with Gennaro Gattuso) was with the San Siro outfit for a first spell
‘Whatever I did before I don’t bring it on the table now because it’s like I have to demonstrate every day who I am. That’s why I bring out the best of me every day. I’ll keep going until I can’t do these things I’m doing.’
After struggling to hit his best form at United following his return from injury he looked set to see out his career in the United States after joining LA Galaxy only to return to the San Siro earlier this year.
He enjoyed an impressive half-season back at the club with 10 goals from 18 games and intended to retire to spend more time with his family.
However he states that discussions with boss Stefano Pioli in the summer convinced him to continue.
The striker held talks with AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli and his mind appeared set on retirement
‘Pioli asked me what I wanted to do [about his future],’ Ibrahimovic told Sky Sport Italia.
‘I replied: “No, I am not going to continue. Enough. My family is also important, I’m here alone, it’s a sacrifice. For six months it’s fine, but I don’t want to stay another year.”
‘Pioli said to me: “Okay, I respect you, okay.” The next day we talked again: “No, I’ve decided to retire. Forget the contract, at this age it’s not important.”
‘Then something changed. I didn’t want to have any regrets. I called Milan and decided to go on.’