Zlatan Ibrahimovic hints he may leave Sweden national team; Wayne Rooney to rest as Roy Hodgson tinkers

Zlatan Ibrahimovic speaks his mind about his role in elevating Sweden and France; Wayne Rooney to get a chance to rest as Roy Hodgson will experiment with combinations against Spain.

Forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic was all smiles ahead of Sweden's Euro 2016 play-off match against Denmark at Stockholm, Sweden.    AFP
Powered by automated translation

 Sweden

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has never been afraid to speak his mind and the Sweden striker said yesterday that he had put France on the map of world football. Before his country meet Denmark in the first leg of their Euro 2016 play-off at the Friends Arena on Saturday, Ibrahimovic also hinted that the two games against Sweden’s Scandinavian rivals could be his last for the national team. “I would love to play at the European Championship in France,” the Paris Saint-Germain forward said. “I have played there for four years. I have put Sweden on the world map and now I have put France on the world map, too.” As to whether he would retire from Sweden if they failed to overcome Denmark, Ibrahimovic said: “We’ll see. If you’re asking me now? No. If you ask me after the play-offs? I don’t know.” Sweden’s all-time record scorer shrugged off the fact that he has never scored against the Danes. “It doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “There will be goals when there is goals. If we create chances they’ll turn up.” The second leg is in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

 England

Wayne Rooney will sit out England’s friendly in Spain as Roy Hodgson prepares to experiment with Euro 2016 fast approaching. Hodgson plans to make several changes for this match and Tuesday’s friendly against France. Rooney is set to start against the Euro 2016 hosts at Wembley, but the England captain will be a spectator against Spain. “We are going to use the two games to look at various combinations, various groups of players playing together,” Hodgson said.

 Liverpool

Joe Gomez’s season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury, sustained playing for England Under 21s last month, has left the Liverpool defender “absolutely devastated” after the teenager made a promising start to the campaign. Gomez, 18, who joined from Charlton Athletic, made an instant impact at the club and began the season as their first-choice left-back, putting in some assured displays. “I was absolutely devastated. I was hoping I’d be back available before too long,” Gomez told the Liverpool Echo. “The physio Chris [Morgan] and the doctor [Andy Massey] didn’t say anything before the scan, but my knee had swollen up and I think they knew straightaway. When they got the results, I could tell by the doctor’s face that it wasn’t good news. To be told it was my cruciate was tough to take.”

 Palermo

Club president Walter Zamparini has issued a hands-off warning following reports AC Milan will try to lure attacking midfielder Franco Vazquez to the club in January. Argentine-born Italian Vazquez came to prominence at Palermo last season playing alongside striker Paulo Dybala. Dybala has departed for Juventus but Vazquez continues to impress in Serie A and Milan are one of several clubs reported to be preparing a bid for the 26-year-old forward.

 Hungary

Former Hungary goalkeeper Marton Fulop, who played for a string of English Premier League clubs, has died from cancer at the age of 32, Hungarian media reported. Fulop, who played 24 times for Hungary after a 2005 debut against France, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. He began his career with MTK Budapest before signing for Tottenham Hotspur in 2004. A series of loans then followed to Chesterfield, Coventry City, and Sunderland, who signed Fulop in 2007 before loaning him out to Leicester City, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion. The player also had a short stint in Greece with Asteras Tripolis in 2012. In 2013 he announced that he was taking a break to recover from a tumour removal operation, but never returned to professional football again.

Follow us on twitter at @NatSportUAE