Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Emotional Homecoming

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Emotional Homecoming

Zlatan Ibrahimovic fought back tears as Sweden fans paid a touching tribute to their nation’s greatest-ever player on Saturday night. 

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side were handily beaten 3-0 by England’s opening Euro 2024 opponents at the Friends Arena but that didn’t dampen the heartwarming reception for the former striker, who called time on his career last June. 

After walking out on the pitch through a guard of honour, the 42-year-old took to a podium in the centre circle and was visibly emotional as more than 45,000 fans serenaded their icon. 

‘I see that you have missed me…even on the field,’ he joked crowd after composing himself. ‘I’ve missed you, too.’

Ibrahimovic was recognised for his contribution to the national team, an international career that spanned 22 years in which he amassed 122 caps and scored 62 goals. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic fought back tears before addressing the packed crowd at the Friends Arena on Saturday night

The 42-year-old made 122 appearances for the national team, scoring 62 goals during an international career that spanned 22 years

The 42-year-old made 122 appearances for the national team, scoring 62 goals during an international career that spanned 22 years 

The former striker addressed supporters in the stadium, thanking them for their support and encouraging the younger generations to never give up, using his journey as inspiration. 

He was also shown a film of the many highlights of his career and presented with a jersey marked with his number of appearances. Ibrahimovic is a 12-time Sweden Footballer of the Year award winner. 

It’s not the first time fans have been hit with the softer side of a man who was known for his uber confidence and bravado during his playing days. 

Last June, he bade a similarly emotional farewell to AC Milan fans when he announced his retirement, having been plagued by knee injuries in the latter years of his career. 

The evening had begun in less than ideal circumstances, with the home side on the end of a defeat thanks to goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, former Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic. 

Serbia made the most of their 36 per cent possession and only five shots on target to head into their European Championships clash against England on June 16 in confident fashion. 

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