Nigeria

Ibrahimovic drops Sweden return hint ahead of Euros

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AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said on Wednesday that he missed playing for Sweden and hinted that he may be open to a return to the national side for next year’s Euros.

The 39-year-old, who retired from international football after the World Cup in 2016, opened the door for a return after being awarded Sweden’s Footballer of the Year award for an astonishing 12th time.

“If you ask me I’ll be honest: yes, I miss the national team,” he told Swedish daily Aftonbladet. “It’s no secret.”

“The one who does not miss it, he has already finished his career. And I have not finished my career.”

Ibra, who scored 62 goals in 116 internationals, has been in impressive form for AC Milan since his summer move, heading the Serie A scoring charts with 10 goals already this season.

He was more opaque, however, when asked directly how would he respond if coach Janne Andersson called him.

“Give me time, I have to think about it,” said Ibrahimovic.

Without him, Sweden qualified directly for the Euros where they will face Spain, Poland and Slovakia there. But a poor Nations League campaign which produced one win and five losses, and resulted in relegation from the A Group has rekindled thoughts of an Ibrahimovic return.

In November, he posted an old photo of himself on social media, wearing a Sweden shirt and the captain’s armband with the phrase “Long time no see”.

Andersson appeared less enamoured of the idea when he was also cornered by Aftonbladet.

“I’m pretty annoyed,” said Andersson.

“He told me in 2016 that he wanted to retire and I respected his choice. So now it’s up to him.

“If he wants to be involved in the national team again, to change his mind, he must say it clearly. In this case, it will be up to me to decide.

“I would be lying if I said I was surprised. I’m impressed and struck by how he continues to have that hunger on the pitch, that quality in everything he does.

“He’s a great athlete, by far the best Swedish player of all time. What he does is amazing, I can only congratulate him.”

Ibrahimovic is currently injured after scoring twice in Naples at the weekend but he insists he will not be out of action for long.

“It’s nothing serious,” he said. “Just one or two weeks.”

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