Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back in the national squad, the Swedish Football Association announced on Tuesday.
“The return of the God,” the 39-year-old Milan striker tweeted as the national team’s manager Janne Andersson announced his comeback in a press conference. It came four years and nine months after the striker quit the national team following the 1-0 defeat to Belgium in the 2016 European Championships.
Now, Ibrahimovic is back on the team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification games against Georgia and Kosovo on March 25 and 28, and a friendly game against Estonia on March 31.
Ibrahimovic, who made his first international appearance aged 19 against the Faroe Islands, scored 62 goals in the 116 matches he played before taking the break — one of the most memorable being the bicycle kick goal against England in 2012, a match Sweden won by 4-2.
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 16, 2021
“First and foremost, he is a very good football player, the best we have had in Sweden,” Andersson said in a press release following the press conference. “In addition to what he can contribute on the field, he has incredible experience and can contribute it to other players in the team.”
“It is a long way to go to reach the 2022 World Cup, but we want to go there and it is important for us to get as good a start as possible in the qualifiers,” Andersson said, adding:
“Both Kosovo and Georgia have many good and technically skilled players. We met Kosovo during the January tour in 2019 and we know that it is a fit team even if they did not have the best possible team at the time. As usual, we need to be careful in our preparations and make good performances to get the start we want in the qualifiers.”