The crazy story of Zlatan Ibrahimovic resumes with Sweden, after the announcement of his selection Tuesday March 16, five years after his international retirement at the end of Euro 2016. Under the colors of his country, the former PSG player as often shone, but also exasperated. Back on five highlights of his career in selection.
For his first Euro in 2004 in Portugal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was quick to mark the competition at 22 years old. Already scorer in the opening during the overwhelming victory (5-0) of his team against Bulgaria, the Swede then played a very bad turn on Squadra Azzurra. The Yellow and Blue, then led by a goal, relied on their attacking giant to get them back on track. Less than five minutes from the final whistle, Zlatan scores with a pigeon wing of which he has the secret, on the nose and beard of Gianluigi Buffon after a mess in the Italian area. This draw (1-1) will cost the Transalpines dearly, eliminated from the group stages on the goal difference.
The iconic Swedish player has not always had a rosy relationship with his selection. On the occasion of qualifying for Euro 2008, “Ibra” decides to go out in discotheque within two days of a match in Sweden. The coach at the time, Lars Lagerbäck, then decided to suspend him for a meeting. But annoyed, the native of Malmö suddenly announces his international retirement which will ultimately only be temporary. He then returns to play Euro 2008 where his two goals are not enough to avoid the elimination of Sweden from the group stages.
It was a friendly game, but that night Zlatan didn’t just make friends. It illuminated the eyes of the Swedes and misted those of the English. After having already scored a hat-trick allowing his team to lead 3-2, the former PSG striker scored one of the most improbable goals in history. On a recovery from the head of the goalkeeper Joe Hart, Ibrahimovic achieves an acrobatic return, back to the English goal but especially more than 30 meters from it. This goal earned him not only to register a quadruple but above all to win the prize for the most beautiful goal of the year 2012, the Puskas Prize.
What would Zlatan be without his oversized ego? He has often demonstrated his high self-esteem which he ended up playing, as after the elimination of Sweden in the 2014 World Cup play-offs. That evening, despite a double, Ibrahimovic was stopped by Cristiano Ronaldo during the defeat of Sweden (3-2), and it is the Portuguese who obtained his ticket for Brazil. As often when he is hit, the Swede put on a show at a press conference. “One thing is certain. A World Cup without me, there’s no point watching it because there is nothing to see” he said before once again letting doubt hang over the rest of his international career without finally putting an end to it.
Euro 2016 is in full swing in France. Sweden were held in check in their first game against Ireland and lost to the Italian team. The Yellow and Blue then scored only one goal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still silent in this competition. Yet it won’t stay that way for long, at least at a press conference. Before his team’s third match against Belgium, which could qualify them for the knockout stages, the Swedish captain takes everyone by surprise by announcing his international retirement at the end of the competition. He didn’t know it yet, but Sweden’s loss to the Belgians would make it effective one game only after announcing it. He did not know either that he would be back five years later under the colors of his country to play the Euro in 2021.