Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from professional football at the age of 41 and he broke down in tears after receiving a spine-tingling reception from his AC Milan teammates.
The striker announced he would be calling time on his legendary 24-year career following Milan’s final Serie A game of the season against Hellas Verona.
Ibrahimovic has been on the shelf for most of this season with injury. The former Sweden international underwent knee surgery last year after helping Milan to their first title in 11 years.
Ibrahimovic said per Goal: “The first time we arrived in 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.”
Milan manager Stefano Pioli and his players were on the touchline in ‘Ibrahimovic 11’ shirts as Ibrahimovic made his announcement with supporters in the stands and midfielder Sandro Tonali visibly emotional.
Those in the crowd honored Ibrahimovic by making up a tifo that read ‘Godbye‘, referring to his ‘God of Milan’ moniker.
Ibrahimovic received a signed shirt from the Milan hierarchy and, despite being cool personified, even he started to tear up.
Tears in everyone’s eyes.
Zlatan is immense,
𝐀𝐋𝐖𝐀𝐈𝐙 ❤️🖤 pic.twitter.com/ZiCwzdWTZB
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) June 4, 2023
Ibrahimovic burst onto the scene in 1999 with Malmo before joining Ajax in the Netherlands. From there, he would go on to play for some of the world’s biggest clubs, including Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and AC Milan across two separate stints, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and LA Galaxy.
He scored an astonishing 493 goals in 819 games and won 34 major honors during his club career.
At international level, he became Sweden’s all-time top goalscorer with 62 goals in 122 appearances. He also represented his country at six major international tournaments and was awarded Swedish Player of the Year a record 12 times.
In addition to being a world-class footballer, Ibrahimovic was a proper character. He’d regularly describe himself as a ‘lion’ on and off the pitch and always ‘Dared to Zlatan’. Just ask Pep Guardiola.
Football was all the better for it. A true icon of the game who will go down in history. Thanks for everything, Zlatan.
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