A tearful Zlatan Ibrahimovic surprised the sporting world on Sunday night by announcing his retirement from football with immediate effect after AC Milan’s final match of the season.
Fans at the San Siro bade farewell to the Swedish striker ahead of his final game for the club and, despite telling the world he was not going to retire amid interest from Monza, the 41-year-old revealed at full-time that he was quitting not just AC Milan but football altogether.
Ibrahimovic hangs up his boots after an incredible 988 professional appearances for club and country in a 24-year career which started in 1999.
There was barely a dry eye in the San Siro as an emotional Ibrahimovic addressed the AC Milan faithful and his team-mates at full-time.
Referring to his two spells at the club, he said: ‘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.
‘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 professional career started with Swedish club Malmo in 1999, before spells with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG, Manchester United, and LA Galaxy. He returned to Milan from the United States in 2020.