Zlatan Ibrahimovic broke down in tears as he announced his retirement from football on the San Siro pitch.
The striker had attended AC Milan’s win over Hellas Verona in their final game of the Serie A season, though was unable to play due to injury. But he was welcomed onto the pitch after the final whistle, where he was given a hero’s farewell by the San Siro crowd, club directors and his teammates.
The iconic Sweden international delivered an emotional speech as he was presented with a framed shirt by the Rossoneri. Ibrahimovic struggled to hold back tears as he announced that he had played his final game as a professional footballer.
“So many memories and emotions inside this stadium. The first time I arrived you gave me happiness, the second time, you gave me love. I want to thank my family and those close to me for their patience,” he said.
“I want to thank my second family. The players, the coach and his staff for the responsibility they gave me. I want to thank the directors for the opportunity they gave me. Last but not least, from my heart, I want to thank you, fans.
“You welcomed me with open arms and I will be a Milanista my entire life. It’s time to say goodbye to football, but not to you. It’s too difficult, there are too many emotions. I’ll see you around if you are lucky. Forza Milan and goodbye.”
Ibrahimovic’s career spanned 24 years, with spells at nine clubs in total. He first broke into professional football at Malmo, where 18 goals in three years earned him a move to Ajax.
He helped the Dutch giants to win the Eredivisie in his first campaign in Amsterdam before leaving for Juventus after four years. After Juve were relegated following a match-fixing scandal, the Swede joined Inter Milan, where he won three successive Serie A titles.
He then had a short-lived spell at Barcelona before returning to Italy on loan at AC Milan. That move was made permanent in 2011 and he duly fired in 35 goals in 44 appearances in the following campaign.
His performances earned him another move, this time to Paris Saint-Germain, where he won four successive Ligue 1 titles. After leaving PSG in 2016, he opted to join Manchester United, where he finally got his hands on a European trophy in the form of the Europa League.
His stay at Old Trafford also proved to be short-lived and he appeared to begin winding down his career with a move to LA Galaxy. But after two years in the MLS, he returned for a second spell at AC Milan, scoring eight goals to help them win the Serie A title last season.
While he was not able to enjoy as much success on the international stage, he scored many memorable goals for Sweden. And he also developed a memorable personality off the pitch, with many moments in the spotlight.
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