AC Milan stalwart Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed he had almost retired from football in the summer before having a change of heart.
Ibrahimovic has been an architect of Milan’s resurrection, a force that has turned a struggling side into a force to be reckoned with. The 39-year-old has defied his age to almost single-handedly lead the Rossoneri to the top of the Serie A table.
Zlatan was impressive in the second half of the last season but has been utterly outstanding this campaign. The ex-Los Angeles Galaxy superstar currently sits atop the scoring charts in Italy, having registered ten goals in just six league outings. Indeed, he has found the net at least once in each Serie A appearance this term.
The way Ibrahimovic has impacted the entire Milan team has sparked some hopes among the fans the club could get to their first league title since 2011. The towering Swede was also an instrumental part of the Rossoneri side to win the last Serie A crown nine years ago.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic:— Football Stuff (@FootbalIStuff) November 27, 2020
“Chelsea can’t sign me, I have more trophies than Chelsea. I should be the one to sign them”
For the time being, Stefano Pioli will have to find a way to keep Milan’s unstoppable league streak going without his headline performer. Ibrahimovic scored twice to lead the Milanese outfit to a 3-1 win against Napoli a fortnight ago. However, that game cost Milan dearly as Ibra picked up a hamstring injury that will keep him out of action until the next weekend.
Everything may have been different for the Rossoneri this season should Ibrahimovic had not decided to revoke his initial decision to hang up his boots. Zlatan has recently confirmed he wanted to quit playing in the summer but had a sudden change of heart and opted to prolong his professional career.
“[Milan manager Stefano] Pioli asked me what I wanted to do. I replied: ‘No, I am not going to continue. Enough,” Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports Italia.
“My family is also important. I’m here alone – it’s a sacrifice. For six months it’s fine, but I don’t want to stay another year.
Last summer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic told Milan he's going to retire…— Purely Football (@PurelyFootball) December 5, 2020
Now, Milan are top of the league and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Serie A top scorer.🔝⚽️ pic.twitter.com/GRHKwPMm2c
“Pioli said to me: ‘Okay, I respect you, okay.’
“The next day we talked again: ‘No, I’ve decided to retire. Forget the contract, at this age, it’s not important.’
“Then something changed. I didn’t want to have any regrets. I called Milan and decided to go on. But at first, I decided: ‘No, I won’t stay next year.’
“Already at [Manchester] United, I was thinking of quitting. I was 35, 36 years old.”
Ibrahimovic left Paris Saint-Germain to join Manchester United in 2016 and went on to clock up 29 goals and ten assists in 53 games for the Red Devils. Given his footballing stature, he would have achieved more at Old Trafford, but a career-threatening knee injury in 2017 cut short his Premier League adventure.