Stockholm (AFP) – Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who quit the Swedish national squad in 2016, will not make a comeback for the World Cup in Russia, the Swedish football federation said Thursday.
“I spoke with Zlatan on Tuesday. He said that he has not changed his mind regarding the national squad,” the managing director of the national squad, Lars Richt, said in a statement after the player dropped numerous hints of a possible return.
“It’s a no,” Richt added.
In an appearance on ABC television’s late night Jimmy Kimmel show on April 18, the new star of LA Galaxy teased fans that he may come out of retirement to play in Russia.
Known for his swagger, the athlete said “it wouldn’t be a World Cup” if he didn’t play, adding: “I’m going to the World Cup, yes.”
The 36-year-old who last played at a World Cup with Sweden in 2006, retired from the Swedish team after the 2016 European Championship.
He said last month he wanted to concentrate on settling into his career in Major League Soccer before thinking about the World Cup.
Ibrahimovic, a father of two, became the latest in a long line of ageing stars to swap the heights of European football for the MLS. He also took a massive pay cut when he left Manchester United for LA Galaxy.
Ibrahimovic has 31 winners’ medals collected in spells with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.