All good things must come to an end and world football had to endure that last Sunday: Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the best strikers of this century, at age 42, has announced his retirement from professional football.
After months of speculation, Ibrahimovic announced his retirement during AC Milan’s 3-1 victory over Hellas Verona in their final Serie A game. The Swedish striker had been struggling with injuries for the last two seasons, failing to play on a regular basis, and there were a lot of rumors of him choosing another team, including Silvio Berlusconi’s Monza side, but he finally decided to call it quits.
"The time has arrived to say goodbye".
We will miss you, forever and 𝐀𝐋𝐖𝐀𝐈𝐙❤️🖤
Good luck in retirement 👏 pic.twitter.com/vF0w3kCKU9
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) June 4, 2023
The striker’s career is nothing short of excellent. He has played in the best clubs in the world, won almost every trophy except for the UEFA Champions League, and was always a valuable asset, scoring at least ten goals in every club he was a part of. This is a world-class striker that played for the likes of Paris Saint Germain, Manchester United, Juventus, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Ajax, and AC Milan while being important in all of those teams.
He retires having scored 511 goals in 866 matches and being one of the most prominent strikers of the 21st century. His charisma, iconic looks, imposing figure, and capacity to score wonder goals in many shapes and forms have made him one of the most recognizable figures in the sport.
While the UEFA Champions League trophy has always been a running frustration for Ibrahimovic, he was a key figure in the success of a lot of his teams. He helped Inter during their resurgence in the late 2000s with three Serie A titles, was a key part in AC Milan’s final prime years with the Ancelotti core of players, was arguably the best player in PSG’s modern history, and had productive spells for the likes of Ajax, Juventus, and LA Galaxy.
Perhaps FC Barcelona was the only period of his career that could be deemed a failure and even then he scored 21 goals in 45 matches while struggling to fit in the system, which is saying a lot about his qualities. However, his fallout with manager Pep Guardiola has become the stuff of legends and is discussed even to this very day.
Arguably one of his highest moments as a player was him coming back to AC Milan in the 2019/20 season. While a lot of people already assumed he was no longer playing at the highest as he had joined MLS side LA Galaxy in 2018, Zlatan surprised the world and came back to Italy to help his former team in a time of need.
While already in his 40s and struggling with injuries, Ibra still managed to score 37 goals in 78 matches, which is an extraordinary output considering his age. He added experience and know-how to a young AC Milan side that would end up winning the 2021/22 Serie A title, which can be viewed as Zlatan’s greatest achievement.
So long, Zlatan: the world is always going to remember “Ibracadabra”.