Zlatan Ibrahimović leaves.
The Swedish football icon announced his retirement on Sunday in an emotional post-match speech to the crowd at the San Siro stadium at the end of AC Milan’s Serie A season. He did so after Milan’s 3-1 win over Verona. Ibrahimović, 41, made the announcement in street clothes. He hasn’t played since a calf injury sidelined him in April.
“So many memories and emotions inside this stadium,” Ibrahimović said while addressing the fans, according to the “Mirror” translation. “The first time I came you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love. …
“You welcomed me with open arms, and I will be a Milanista all my life. It’s time to say goodbye to football, but not to you. It’s too difficult, there are too many emotions. I’ll see if you’re lucky. Forza Milan and goodbye.
Ibrahimović made his announcement as he was surrounded by his teammates dressed in his No.11 shirt. His retirement comes at the end of his second stint with AC Milan which began in 2019. Injuries limited him to just four games this season after knee surgery in 2022. He didn’t seem sure of retirement as recently as Saturday.
“But I have to find a balance like in life. If you don’t have serenity, or stability, you’re a bomb and bombs go off.”
Milan also announced on Saturday that he would not renew his contract, concluded at the end of the season.
Ibrahimović began his professional career in 1999 with Sweden’s Malmö FF and played for nine teams including Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United before a two-season stint in the United States with the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. He returned to AC Milan for his second stint after his tenure with the Galaxy. He previously played with AC Milan from 2010 to 2012.
Ibrahimović won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan from 2008 to 2010. He won another with AC Milan in 2012 and again in 2022. He played for the Swedish national team and is ending his career as the all-time top scorer with 62 goals. He helped Sweden to the knockout stages of the World Cup twice, in 2002 and 2006. He finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or vote in 2013.
Beloved for his aggressive style of play and ever-present confidence, Ibrahimović was a fan favorite through his saves. He regularly spoke of himself in the third person and repeatedly called himself “God”. His full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times announcing his arrival at the Galaxy in 2018 epitomized his brash style.
“Dear Los Angeles,” said the copy.
It was accompanied by his signature. And that was it.
AC Milan fans returned love and passion on Sunday as Ibrahimović bid farewell. The stands remained full after the game as fans sang, waved and filled the San Siro Stadium with chants of “Ibrahimović, Ibrahimović”.