Durable Zlatan Ibrahimovic targets playing at 2022 World Cup, at 41

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has unfinished enterprise at the World Cup.

The striker has come out of worldwide retirement at the age of 39 and is ready to play his first match for Sweden since 2016 when the group performs a World Cup qualifier towards Georgia in Stockholm on Thursday.

Ibrahimovic’s preliminary purpose is to play for Sweden at the continent-wide European Championship beginning in June however looming additional within the distance is the World Cup in Qatar that takes place in November and (*41*) 2022 — when he will probably be 41.

Ibrahimovic has performed in two World Cup finals — in 2002 and ’06 — and by no means scored a purpose. He needs to fill that hole on his bulging resume.

“That is something I will beat because I can’t have a zero,” Ibrahimovic stated Monday, smiling. “Looking too far ahead is dangerous. I must think more about what happens the next day. … But If I feel the way I do today, I will be there.”

The AC Milan striker interspersed moments of typical brashness — “If you ask me, I’m the best in the world,” he stated — with moments of humility as he spoke for practically an hour at a information convention at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. He even appeared to weep as he recalled saying farewell to his household earlier than travelling to Sweden for the upcoming video games towards Georgia, Kosovo and Estonia.

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates his purpose towards Bologna throughout the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s file scorer with 62 targets from 112 appearances, stated he had missed playing for the nationwide group and was as enthusiastic as he has ever been.

“The head is sometimes faster than the legs can handle,” he stated. “But proper now, it’s nearly feeling good, performing and each time I’m going out on the sector I’m like just a little baby kicking the ball for the primary time.

“If the head gets to decide, I never stop. I’m not the same player as before, but I continue to perform.”

Ibrahimovic stated a severe knee harm he sustained whereas playing for Manchester United in 2017, which saved him out for seven months, modified his mindset about his profession. He solely performed seven extra video games for United, finally transferring to Los Angeles Galaxy the place he spent two seasons.

He returned to top-level European soccer at AC Milan in late 2019 and feels his shows in Italy show he’s nonetheless able to performing nicely at worldwide stage.

“He is young, very young,” Ibrahimovic stated, talking about himself. “And each day that passes, the younger he gets.”

Ibrahimovic stated he has obtained some playful taunts about his age from teammates since linking up with the Sweden squad however it’s clear he’s nonetheless held in nice esteem by the nation’s gamers, a few of whom grew up idolizing him.

Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak provided to provide him their shirt numbers — Nos. 10 and 11, respectively — and Ibrahimovic stated he has taken up Isak’s supply.

“He said he’ll get it back in six or seven years when I quit,” Ibrahimovic stated with fun.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson stated he envisaged the captaincy sooner or later returning to Ibrahimovic, however not instantly.

“Of course Zlatan has the most experience but he has no experience with our team,” Andersson stated. “Eventually he will be able to be captain of this team. But right now I don’t see it in this group.”

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