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AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic retires from football aged 41

Legendary AC Milan and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced his retirement from football at the age of 41.

The Scandinavian marksman – considered one of the greatest strikers of his generation and one of Sweden’s greatest ever players – made just four appearances for Milan during an injury-hit 2022-23 season.

Ibrahimovic spent months on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery, but he briefly returned for four Serie A games between February and March, starting and scoring in a 3-1 loss to Udinese on March 18.

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That strike made the 41-year-old the oldest player to ever score in the top flight of Italian football, but he re-entered the treatment room soon after due to hamstring and calf injuries.

Ibrahimovic’s contract at San Siro expires at the end of the month, and Milan had already confirmed that the Swede would be leaving the club for a second time once his deal ran out.

Ibrahimovic initially expressed a desire to continue playing beyond the summer, but in a tearful ceremony on the San Siro turf, he announced that he would finally be hanging up his boots.

Addressing his teammates and the crowd following their 3-1 final-day Serie A win over Hellas Verona, the striker said: “The first time we arrived at Milan you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love.

“From my heart I want to thank you fans. You welcomed me with open arms, you made me feel at home. I will be a Milan fan for the whole It’s time to say goodbye to football, not you.”

Ibrahimovic’s retirement marks the end of the 41-year-old’s distinguished and often controversial career in Europe and beyond, during which he won a staggering 32 major honours.

The Swede burst onto the scene with Malmo before earning a switch to Ajax in 2001, where he won two Eredivisie titles, one Dutch Cup and one Dutch Super Cup before being signed by Juventus three years later.

Ibrahimovic spent just two years with the Old Lady, departing for Inter Milan after they were relegated to Serie B in 2006, and he won three consecutive Serie A titles with the Nerazzurri between 2007 and 2009.

Barcelona subsequently snapped Ibrahimovic up in a €69.5m (£59.8m) deal, winning the Club World Cup and La Liga title before transferring to Milan for the first time, initially on a season-long loan in 2011.

A trophy-laden four-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain would soon follow for Ibrahimovic, who scored 156 goals for the club and won three Ligue 1 Golden Boots, and he reunited with Jose Mourinho for a two-year stint at Manchester United between 2016 and 2018.

After reigniting his goalscoring touch at LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic made his Milan homecoming in 2020, clinching another Serie A title in the 2021-22 season, but he retires without ever having won the Champions League.

At international level, Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s all-time leading men’s goalscorer with 62 goals in 122 caps, also putting him sixth in his nation’s all-time appearance list.

The 41-year-old’s astonishing overhead kick against England in 2012 won him the Puskas Award, and his final appearance for Sweden came in March’s Euro 2024 qualifying loss to Belgium.

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