AC Milan legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs up boots after 22 years

Swedish striker ends illustrious career after winning league titles in Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France

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AC Milan striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has confirmed his retirement from football at the age of 41 after an illustrious career decorated with league titles.

The announcement was made at San Siro after AC Milan's 3-1 victory over Verona marked the end of the Serie A season.

“I say goodbye to football but not to you,” said an emotional Ibrahimovic on the pitch.

“There are too many emotions for me right now. Forza Milan and goodbye.”

Ibrahimovic has been a key figure in AC Milan's resurgence in Italian football.

After his return to the club in late 2019 for a second spell, he aided Milan in bouncing back from a low phase and led them to clinch the Scudetto last season.

“The first time I came here you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love,” Ibrahimovic said, crediting his fans for their undying support.

The Sweden international's career spans stints in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France, earning him league titles in each.

His last major European trophy was the 2017 Europa League with Manchester United.

Ibrahimovic's final season with Milan was marred by injuries.

After surgery on his left knee in May 2022, he returned in February only to suffer a calf injury in April, which sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Despite his trials, Ibrahimovic managed to etch his name in the record books again by becoming the oldest goal scorer in Serie A history, during a 3-1 victory at Udinese in March.

It was also his only start and goal for the season.

Ibrahimovic's contract with Milan was set to expire at the end of June.

This follows a season ridden with injuries, bringing his remarkable career to an end.

Speculation circulated about a move to Monza and involvement in Euro 2024 with Sweden, but his retirement announcement puts the rumours to rest.

With a professional career that began in Malmo FF in 1999, Ibrahimovic moved through leading European teams such as Ajax Amsterdam, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Milan.

He also holds the record as Sweden's all-time top scorer, with 62 goals in 121 matches.

Despite retiring from the national team after Euro 2016, he returned in 2021 for their unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign.

His time on the pitch has ended but his legacy in the football world endures.

As Ibrahimovic said to the fans: “You welcomed me with open arms, you made me feel at home. I will be a Milanista for the rest of my life.”

Updated: June 05, 2023, 6:38 AM