Zlatan Ibrahimovic AC Milan 2022-23Getty

‘I can play a few more years!’ - Zlatan Ibrahimovic lifts lid on injury nightmare after making first AC Milan appearance in 280 days

  • Swedish striker suffered knee problem
  • Had to undergo surgery
  • Back on the field & eager to impress

WHAT HAPPENED? The 41-year-old striker stepped off the bench on Sunday as the reigning Serie A champions saw off Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro. That outing saw Ibrahimovic take in his first minutes since May 22, 2022, with a knee problem having forced him under the knife and kept him stuck on the sidelines.

WHAT THEY SAID: Ibrahimovic told DAZN of his injury nightmare: “If I have to tell the whole story, I’ll be here for hours. I suffered a lot, so much. The last six months of last season I wanted in every way to help the team, even when I couldn’t really play. I could’ve had the surgery six months earlier, but I could tell this was the season we could win the Scudetto.

“I promised to the coach that I would hold off on the surgery because I wanted to be there for the team and help them. I tell you, I never suffered so much as I did last season for a trophy. It was also a year when the tragedy of losing Mino (Raiola), so mentally it was a lot of suffering too, not just physically. Thankfully, I have people around me who help give me the strength to keep going. When I’m in good shape, though, I am stronger than anyone. I feel like someone who can help more than I did today. I had two or three training sessions and played 15 minutes, imagine what I can do with training sessions. That is what I am missing, the training. It’s been a year and two months since I really got to work with the ball at my feet, but today it felt like no time had passed at all.”

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He added, when speaking to Italia 1: "If I stay like this, I can play for a few more years, not just one year."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ibrahimovic is now the oldest player to represent Milan in a Serie A fixture, but he maintains that he still has an important role to play for the club heading forward. The veteran Swede continued: “If I don’t set myself objectives, then I relax and start to feel like I belong in the past. I don’t, I belong in the present and want to challenge my team-mates for playing time, otherwise I should not be here. I don’t want to be here for what I did one, five or 10 years ago. It’s for what I do now. If I don’t bring results or think I only need to play the last 5-10 minutes, I will stay home. It’s already over if someone thinks that. I want to play the whole game.”

IN TWO PHOTOS:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, MilanGetty Images

WHAT NEXT? Ibrahimovic returned to Milan for a second spell in December 2019 and helped the Rossoneri to their first title triumph in 11 years when getting them over that line last season – with 36 goals recorded through his 75 appearances back in Italian football.

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