Nice — Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ending his international career
after the European Championship, meaning he could represent Sweden for the last
time on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old striker said Tuesday ahead of Sweden's final
Group E game against Belgium that it would be his last for his country if the
team gets eliminated.
"The last game for Sweden in Euro will be my last game
with Sweden, so I hope it will not be tomorrow," he said. "Let's hope
it goes as long as possible."
Even if Sweden loses and fails to qualify for the knockout
stages, Ibrahimovic said he would not be disappointed with such an end to his
15-year international career.
"To finish on a disappointment, never, because I'm very
proud to be captain of Sweden and what I achieved. So I want to take this
moment and thank all the supporters, because they make it possible for me to
achieve what I have achieved," he said. "For me disappointment
doesn't exist, only proudness and grateful and very thankful."
He added that he "will not participate in the
Olympics" in Rio de Janeiro. He had been named in a provisional Swedish
Also read: Ibrahimovic picked for Sweden's provisional Olympics squad
Ibrahimovic is Sweden's record scorer with 62 goals and can
become its joint sixth most-capped player with 116 appearances on Wednesday.
Sweden, which has yet to score in the tournament or even to register a single
shot on target, is likely to need a win against Belgium to qualify for the last
16 after an opening draw with Ireland and a defeat to Italy.
Looking ahead to the match, Ibrahimovic said: "We need
to play a bit more as a team, need to be better."
"There's a lot of pressure on us but we're still in
there, we've managed to stay in there and we'll do everything we can to
continue in the tournament," he said. "I feel good, I really feel 100
percent. Thus far I haven't really been able to play at my best level."
Sweden coach Erik Hamren highlighted Ibrahimovic's
contribution to the team and to Swedish soccer in general.
"Our greatest star going is a big loss," Hamren
said. "We have one international player that's really at the same level as
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and that's Zlatan Ibrahimovic."
Hamren added that Ibrahimovic had discussed retirement with
him in "January or February" but that Ibrahimovic only confirmed it
"I think Sweden do have a bright future in football,
but of course if we lose Zlatan Ibrahimovic that will be a huge loss,"
Hamren said. "As a goal scorer of course but also as an individual he has
really helped Swedish football."For
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