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November 15, 2017

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‘Ibra’ spurs Swede talk

The final whistle which signaled that Sweden had qualified for the World Cup was still echoing around the San Siro when the speculation began — will retired record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic return for the Russia finals?

Sweden had just secured a 1-0 aggregate victory over Italy with a squad short on big names, a team that snatched second place in European qualifying Group A from the Dutch and beaten France at home before knocking out Italy, all without Zlatan.

“This is incredible. The player has just stopped to play 1-1/2 years ago and we are still here talking about him,” Sweden boss Jaane Andersson said when asked if Ibrahimovic was set to return.

The 36-year-old walked departed the national team after a disappointing group-stage exit at Euro 2016, ending an international career that saw him score 62 goals in 116 matches for his country.

Shortly after the game Zlatan posted a picture on social media with the caption “We are Zweden”. By yesterday, it had over a million likes on Instagram, but Andersson didn’t seem entirely positive about a possible return.

“Zlatan is, as I expressed it, our greatest player of all time, a fantastic athlete in every way, but he has chosen not to take part,” he said.

“These guys who did take part; have performed fantastically. It’s sad to sit and talk about someone who hasn’t been here. I have a gang that has done fantastic, we can talk about them instead.”

The Manchester United striker, currently recovering from a serious knee injury, has always been something of a divisive figure in his native country, adored for his skills but often perceived as arrogant and selfish.


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