Look who’s back! Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start for Sweden for the first time in FIVE YEARS when the 39-year-old AC Milan forward comes out of international retirement to score the winning goal in the World Cup qualifier against Georgia.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic was chosen on Thursday to start for Sweden against Georgia
- The 39-year-old attacker retired after the 2016 European Championship
- He was brought back in this international break and made an emotional return
- Ibrahimovic was given the decisive assist for the winning goal in a crucial 1-0 win
Zlatan Ibrahimovic completed an emotional homecoming on Thursday night when he got his first appearance for Sweden in nearly five years – and it was he who scored the winning goal.
The 39-year-old attacker was reduced to tears earlier this week when asked how his family feel about returning to the national team and there may have been more tears when he saw him play a lead role here.
Ibrahimovic, who had not performed for Sweden since declaring himself in retirement after Euro 2016, teamed up with Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak on the offensive when boss Janne Andersson immediately called on his experience for the opening of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Georgia.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his first appearance for Sweden on Thursday evening since Euro 2016
The striker got stuck and provided the assist for the opening goal of the evening at 35 minutes
The strike link caught the eye when Ibrahimovic made his professional debut in Malmö, two days before Alexander Isak was born in 1999.
Ultimately, it was Ibrahimovic as the teacher who showed student Isak how to do it when he set up Viktor Claesson for the opening goal.
Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s greatest ever player, but he seemed determined to show that his return was more than just a sentimental gesture. His performance made him the oldest player to represent Sweden, beating goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli 38 years and 59 days earlier.
The Milan striker wants to build on his 62 goals in 116 caps, but couldn’t do that against a stubborn Georgia side. He was withdrawn six minutes before the end.
All eyes were on the 39-year-old attacker (center) in the warm-up for Georgia
Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s most decorated footballer, but will still want to expand his goals
Andersson and Ibrahimovic have been talking about a return since the beginning of the year, it was revealed at his press conference this week.
Ibrahimovic said of his meeting: “We met for the first time, alone in a room, and we talked about everything.
‘It was a positive meeting where we confronted each other and in the end we chose what was best for Sweden. We both know what’s best for the national team and today I’m here for you.
‘When I’m here, it’s not because my name is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but because I deserve to be here. Everything I’ve done before doesn’t mean anything. I feel fit, I want to be involved and I feel I can still contribute to the national team.
‘I am only one piece of the puzzle. If you ask me, I’m the best in the world, but that doesn’t help here.
He didn’t score, but he put up Viktor Claesson (right) in what was the only goal of the game
Ibrahimovic was reduced to tears at a press conference this week ahead of his return to Sweden
“I just want to make my experience available to the team and I promised the coach that I will be decisive, but now I have to prove it on the field.”
It was a strong line-up chosen by Andersson on Thursday at the Friends Arena, just outside Stockholm, with Sweden eager to set the tone for the rest of Group B, eventually scoring three crucial points in a 1-0 win. .
In addition to Georgia, Ibrahimovic and Co will have to navigate through Spain, Greece and Kosovo.
They will take on Kosovo in Pristina on March 28 before completing this international break with a friendly against Estonia.