When Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the shocking announcement that he was retiring from football on Sunday, he called an end to a long career that was filled with many accomplishments and trophies.
During a ceremony that took place on the field after AC Milan’s season-ending 3-1 victory against Verona, striker Ibrahimovic, who is a veteran of the game, announced his intention to retire from the sport.
On the field at San Siro, Ibrahimovic was overheard telling his opponent, “It’s time to say goodbye to football, not just to you.”
“Right now, I am dealing with much too many different feelings. Forza Milan, and see you later!”
After his departure from the club that has won seven consecutive European Championships was revealed on Saturday, the 41-year-old player was anticipated to just say goodbye to the supporters of Milan.
He had previously spent two years at Milan, during which time he had won the Serie A title in 2011. He returned to Milan for a second stint in late 2019, after having previously spent those two years there.
“The first time I came here you gave me happiness, and the second time you gave me love,” said Ibrahimovic. “I will never forget either of those experiences.”
“You welcomed me with open arms, you made me feel at home, and I will be a Milanista for the rest of my life,” she said. “I will be a Milanista for the rest of my life.”
Ibrahimovic was an integral part in Milan’s rise to the top of Italian football after his return to the club. He assisted the team in climbing out of the depths of mediocrity and ultimately led them to victory in the Scudetto race last year.
“I used to be scared when journalists asked by about my future, but now I can accept it, I’m ready,” Ibrahimovic told reporters after his declaration. “Now I can accept it, I’m ready.”
“Football is what made me a man; I’ve been playing the game my whole life.” I’ve been all over the globe owing to football, which introduced me to individuals who I never would have met under any other circumstances. It’s all because of football, thank you very much.”
Throughout the course of his career, Ibrahimovic was victorious in the league championships of the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and France; yet, the Europa League trophy that he won with Manchester United in 2017 was the sole significant European honor of his career.
It seemed fitting that he made his announcement in the San Siro, given that he had previously won three consecutive league titles with Inter Milan between the years of 2006 and 2009, before having a difficult time at Barcelona.
His decision to retire comes after a season in which he made very few appearances for the team coached by Stefano Pioli due to a series of ailments. He did not return to action until February after undergoing surgery on his left knee in May.
In July, he signed a contract that guaranteed him a salary of almost one million euros ($1.02 million), in addition to hefty bonuses that were tied to appearances and achievements.
However, despite agreeing to terms of that agreement, the 41-year-old player only started one match and scored one for Milan. This occurred during Milan’s 3-1 victory against Udinese in the month of March, which made him the oldest goal scorer in the history of Serie A.
Then, in April, he suffered a calf injury while warming up before a game, and he spent the rest of his career on the sidelines. This put an end to rumors that he was going to go to Monza and aim for the Euro 2024 tournament with Sweden.