Watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic left teary-eyed as AC Milan and fans give emotional farewell to retiring Swedish legend
Zlatan Ibrahimovic received an emotional farewell from AC Milan and fans present at the San Siro. The Swedish striker has officially retired.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic officially retired from football on Sunday, at the age of 41. The Swedish striker's contract with AC Milan expires at the end of June and it will not be renewed. He returned to Milan for his second spell with the club in early 2020. He won the Scudetto with them in 2011 and again helped them win the title last season.
After their final Serie A match of the season against Hellas Verona, Milan held a special farewell ceremony for Zlatan at the San Siro. The match saw Milan end the season on a positive note with a 3-1 win, courtesy of goals from Oliver Giroud (45+2'), Rafael Leao (85', 90+2'). Meanwhile, Davide Faraoni (72') scored the solitary goal for Verona.
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During the ceremony, Zlatan was welcomed by constant cheering as many fans were left in tears. Even Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali had a similar reaction and even Zlatan couldn't control emotions. During the ceremony, Zlatan said, "I say goodbye to football but not to you."
"The first time I arrived you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love. I want to thank my family and those close to me for their patience", he further added.
Here is a short video of Zlatan's emotional farewell:
The striker began his career at Malmo FF in 1999 and then joined Ajax in 2001, before having spells at Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Manchester United and AC Milan. He is also Sweden's all-time top-scorer with 62 goals in 121 matches. He quit the national team after Euro 2016 and then made a comeback in 2021 during their unsuccessful 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
He also held a press conference regarding his retirement. Speaking to the media, he said, "I thank the journalists for your patience, now you’ll have less work to do without me ... From tomorrow, I am a free man from this world of football."
"It was a long career, really long, thank you to everyone who gave me the strength, the adrenaline and the emotion to continue. For the moment, I just want to take some time and enjoy what I’ve done. It’s not right to make decisions in a hurry, there’s too much emotion right now. I want to take the summer off, reflect and then we’ll see.
"Impossible, there is only one Zlatan! As a child, they compared me to (former Netherlands striker) Marco van Basten, but he is who he is and I am who I am. There might be similarities, but I don’t think comparisons are right. I doubt we’d find another Zlatan with my ego. I could not have dreamed of a night like this. From the first day, I felt at home with Milan, the old and the new version. When I leave here, I will miss it a great deal. Today, they dragged the real Ibrahimovic out", he further added.