Sweden’s record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been recalled to the national team, five years after announcing his retirement.
The 39-year-old scored 62 goals in 116 internationals before quitting after the team’s Euro 2016 group stage exit. He opened the door to a return in a newspaper interview in November 2020 and Sweden coach Janne Andersson then flew to Milan to meet with the striker. Ibrahimovic has 14 goals in 14 Serie A appearances for AC Milan this season. Sweden face Georgia on Thursday, 25 March before playing Kosovo three days later in their opening two 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Ibrahimovic has responded to Sweden’s announcement of their squad by tweeting: “The return of the God.” “He can be a little bit funny at times,” Andersson said when told about the striker’s tweet during an online news conference. “First and foremost he is a very good footballer, the best we have had in Sweden. It’s obviously very good that he wants to come back. “Apart from what he can contribute on the field, he has incredible experience and can contribute that to the other players in the team.” The 6ft 5in striker made his international debut as a 19-year-old against the Faroe Islands and went on to score in his first competitive match – a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup against Azerbaijan. He was also appointed captain for Euro 2012 qualifying, before he scored one of the best goals of the finals with a volley in a 2-0 win over France, although Sweden were eliminated at the group stage. The former Barcelona, Paris St-German, Manchester United and LA Galaxy striker rejoined AC Milan on a six-month deal – with the option for another season – in January 2020.