He turned 41 earlier this month and due to a serious knee injury he won’t play until next year, but the last thing on Zlatan Ibrahimović’s mind right now is retirement.
“I have a great passion for my game,” the AC Milan striker told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview.
“I have a different situation now with my age and with the teammates that I have, but I enjoy every day because I think when you stop playing football you will miss it so much that you don’t want to have any regrets. saying I should have kept playing,” added Ibrahimović, whose contract with Milan runs until June 30, 2023.
Now in his second stint with the Serie A club – the Swede has made 74 appearances and scored 36 goals in all competitions for Milan – Ibrahimović helped the Rossoneri last season win their first Serie A title in 11 years.
“I try to stay level with these youngsters who work hard and just to keep up the pace,” added Ibrahimović, who is Sweden’s all-time top scorer with 62 goals.
While he’s not yet considering retirement, Ibrahimović admits that when he’s not contributing to the team, he’ll be ‘done’ playing.
“I want to be healthy and when I’m at this level I keep playing and I see how far I can go,” said the Swede.
“As long as I can produce results, I will continue to play. The day I slow down I want people around me to be honest and say it’s slowing down and then I’ll be realistic.
Following Milan’s Scudetto success, the Swedish striker revealed on social media that he played the final six months of the season without anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee – the strong strip of tissue that connects the thigh bones at the tibia and the knee joint.
“Took over 20 injections in six months,” Ibrahimović said in a post on her verified Instagram account.
“I drained the knee once a week for six months. Painkillers every day for six months. Barely slept for six months due to pain. I have never suffered so much on and off the pitch.
Nevertheless, Ibrahimović still played 23 out of 28 league games last season and scored eight goals.
“I think in my case I have this motivation, I want to get better every day,” Ibrahimović told Anderson. “I have the mentality that if I don’t work hard enough, I don’t feel good.
“And I think that takes you far, it takes you to a level where you challenge your body because it’s about challenging yourself. How far can you reach? How far can you take your body ?
It’s not the first time in his career that Ibrahimović has been out for an extended period with injury – another serious knee problem while playing for Manchester United.
The injury was so serious that it threatened to end his career.
“It was my first major injury, so everything was new to me,” Ibrahimović said reflecting on the injury he suffered in 2017, which kept him out of action for almost a year.
“So I didn’t really know what to expect, what to expect when I was in that situation.
“At first I was a little scared because I wasn’t sure if I could come back or what was going to happen. But slowly, I took it day by day.
“It was more of a mental thing where I had to stay calm, patient and, let’s say, do a boring workout.”
Milan have won the Champions League or European Cup seven times, second only to Spanish giants Real Madrid, although the Rossoneri have not been champions since 2007, in a rare barren spell for the club on the European stage. .
Since then, teams such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have benefited from the injection of large sums of money from oil-rich Gulf countries, while the English Premier League is awash with foreign investment.
“Money brings possibilities,” Ibrahimović told Anderson. “Money brings alternatives that others may not be able to bring and the hype in the Premier League is much bigger than Serie A and that’s why the economy there is much bigger.
“But that makes it exciting also because it becomes a challenge for Italian clubs to beat other clubs…we are still professional players and the ball is still round and we are doing the same thing.”