man in a blue top on a football pitch
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had a successful career with stints in Milan, Paris, Manchester and LA. Image Credit: Andy Witchger.

AC Milan star footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced his retirement at the age of 41 after a stellar 22-year career which awarded him 34 trophies.

The Swedish striker is Sweden’s all-time leading goal scorer, with 573 scored in his career. His retirement comes after the many injuries he sustained in his last season of football, which meant that he only played four matches in total for the season.

He was visibly emotional when he announced his retirement at the San Siro stadium, saying to his fans ”It’s time to say goodbye to football, but not to you.”

Strong beginnings

According to the fan site www.zlatanibrahimovic.com, he started his professional football career at the age of 17 at Malmo FC in 1999, before moving to Ajax in 2001 for a three year stint. In this time, he helped Malmo move back to the first division, scoring in 15 games. Upon his move to Ajax, he became the most expensive Swedish export of all time, with a record €8.7 million transfer fee.

Making a name for himself

A move to Juventus in 2004 saw him be awarded the ‘Best Foreign Player’ award at the Italian Football Gala. Playing for the Italian club made him a football superstar as he moved again to Inter Milan, where he won the league in two goals in the last game after a season plagued with injury. He ended the 2008–09 Serie A season as the league’s top goal scorer with 25 goals before moving to Barcelona for a one year stint, where he scored his first Champions League goal amid tension with his coach Pep Guardiola.

International fame

Ibrahimovic’s first stint with AC Milan began in the 2011 season before an unexpected four year move to Paris Saint-Germain where he helped PSG become one of the top clubs in Europe, scoring 156 goals in 180 games, becoming their top goal scorer of all time. Brief stints at Manchester United and LA Galaxy followed this, before a departure announced on Twitter, telling Galaxy fans ”You wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues…Now go back to watch baseball.”

Italian return

He returned to AC Milan in 2019 where he lasted until his retirement, which saw him scoring again to set a record of scoring in each of the last four decades. Scoring more goals, and getting into heated confrontation with former Manchester United teammate Romelu Lukaku, he set more records, becoming the oldest player to score a brace in a Serie A game. In April 2022, he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury and has to have surgery, taking him off pitch for seven months, before he returned in February 2023.

Set to retire after the AC Milan’s final game of the Serie A season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has set his legacy as one of the football greats.