The question that brought football great Zlatan Ibrahimovic to tears

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is brought to tears during a press conference.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was brought to tears when asked about his family. Pic: Getty

Football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered the sporting world a rare glimpse of his sensitive side during an emotional press conference in Sweden.

The 39-year-old AC Milan striker fought back tears after arriving back in his homeland to complete his long-anticipated return to the Swedish national side.

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Sweden's most successful player, the AC Milan forward retired from international football with 116 caps and 62 goals for the national team.

He announced his return to the squad in his usual style last week on Instagram with a picture of himself in the Swedish team kit with the caption "The return of the God".

Speaking to reporters before Sweden's 2022 World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Thursday, the often boastful 39-year-old acknowledged he was much more "patient both on and off the field" than when he announced the end of is international career after Euro 2016.

"Right now you're thinking: 'He's much too nice and much too humble'," Ibrahimovic joked.

However, it was a question about leaving his family - in particular his two sons Maximilian and Vincent - that reduced the famously cool Ibrahimovic to tears.

"It's not a good question you're asking. I had Vincent here, who actually cried when I left him. But it's OK, it's OK," he said before taking a long pause to gather his thoughts.

Ibrahimovic then motioned for reporters to give him time as he wiped tears from his eyes, before regaining his composure.

The veteran striker is in terrific form for Milan this season, with 15 goals in as many Serie A games, including the opener in Sunday's 3-2 win at Fiorentina which kept the pressure on league leaders Inter Milan.

However, 'Ibra' says he doesn't want to be given a spot on the Sweden team for his past achievements but because he "deserved" it.

He also said he didn't mind relinquishing the team captaincy, a role now taken by Alexander Granqvist, who plays for Swedish club Helsingborgs.

In a another sign of a "new chapter," Ibrahimovic said he had asked to don the number 11 on his jersey rather than the 10 he used to sport.

"I asked nicely if I could have the 11," he said, adding that teammate and Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak had graciously agreed to give up the number.

Zlatan is seen here applauding fans after playing for the Swedish national team.
Zlatan is Sweden's record goal scorer with 62 goals in 116 appearances for the national side. Pic: Getty

Ibra and Sweden's coach put differences aside

Ibrahimovic and Sweden's head coach Janne Andersson, who also attended the press conference, have had public arguments in the past but both of them insisted repeatedly those disagreements were now behind them.

Andersson travelled to meet Zlatan in Milan in November last year after the star attacker had said in an interview that he missed playing for Sweden.

"When we parted we had put everything that happened before behind us," Andersson said.

Glimpses of the old Ibrahimovic did however make an appearance.

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"If you ask me I'm the best in the world," Zlatan said as he broke into laughter.

He also said he had promised Andersson he would "decide matches".

"I have my experience, I know what I'm good at."

The question of whether the top scorer would ever return to the national team has often divided the Scandinavian nation.

Some fans have pined to see him back on the pitch, while others argued he no longer had a place on a team that has managed to qualify for top international competitions without him.

Andersson, who took over the squad in 2016, has over the years worked to build a team with a collective ethos and little tolerance for diva antics, which could go some way to explaining the 'new-look Zlatan'.

with AFP

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