- Zlatan’s back on the pitch after what many feared was a career-threatening injury.
- Swede said he had to battle back from a dark place.
- Now will he come out of international retirement to play for Sweden in Russia?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made an incredible comeback just seven months after suffering a cruel cruciate knee injury that threatened to end his career.
The striker played a few minutes off the bench in Manchester United’s first team and is back vying for a regular place in Jose Mourinho’s side.
“I’m determined to return stronger and better than before,” he said in an interview.
The knee injury was the first major setback in the 36-year-old’s long career. He described how the accident happened.
“I tried to take down a ball with my chest and timed the landing wrong,” he said. “I stuck my legs out and landed completely wrong. The leg went backwards and then it was pulled out. I have never been hurt, but then I felt I swallowed my tongue. It was a strange feeling that I had never known before.
“I told myself it’s just a bang up. But when I got up, I felt that the leg was not in balance. In the locker room they started to check the leg but without an X-ray it was impossible to say exactly what the problem was. It turned out to be a cruciate ligament injury.
“Thoughts started spinning in my head. What’s happening? It’s a month before the season is over.
“I’m 35-years-old, what can I do? What does the future hold?
“Instead of focusing on one thing at a time, like normally, a lot of things were spinning around in my mind.”
Of the recovery process, Ibrahimovic added: “Mentally, you must accept that it will take time, have patience and continue training at the pace the situation requires.
“I watched TV all the time and saw how everyone else was playing. I saw my own team play and I wanted to be there.
“I’ve been there for 15 years and this was the first time I’d had a major injury, so it was all new to me. But, day by day I learn and I grow stronger every day.
“I can’t influence things physically, but I can influence them mentally, and that’s where I’m strong.”