Former AC Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta has urged Zlatan Ibrahimovic to keep going into his 40s like he did as a player.
Costacurta spent over 20 years with Milan between 1986 and 2007 and played in a defence consisting of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, and Mauro Tassotti, forming one of the best rearguards in Serie A and in European football.
He knows what it takes to win too given he amassed 7 Serie A titles and 5 Champions League/European Cup trophies, but he also knows about longevity given he retired from professional football at the age of 41, becoming the oldest goalscorer in Serie A in the process (at the time).
Costacurta gave an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport and spoke about a number of topics, starting with the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and his comments were relayed by SempreMilan.it.
“Goodbye to Ibra in the event of a Scudetto? No, I don’t agree. My advice to Zlatan is not to end like this. The new injury suffered can make the moment particularly stressful or it is from here that he can find more strength to write another ending,” he said.
“It is true, the season was marked by physical problems and the new knee problem was not needed but I repeat, for what has been his history as an absolute champion and in particular for what he has been able to give to Milan, it is right to solve this too and look forward again. Towards other wonderful goals.
“If I were him I would not stop, for the simple fact that when he was well and played it was always important. Very important. Even more than Giroud who also scored decisive goals and was rightly praised for this. But I prefer Zlatan and I really think he can still give a lot.
“Obviously without playing all or even a lot of them, but he remains, when there is, a decisive weapon. I think he may very well be ready to play at least half of the season’s games. And on those occasions if he too will not be fundamental as in the past he will be able to affect the same. Going below this altitude would isolate him in a marginal role that does not belong to him.
“I have learned this over time, perhaps he is still too anxious to retire. He must be calmer, to not force the return every time: certain relapses may also have depended on his desire to return as soon as possible to help the team. But an athlete like him, at his age, must be managed differently than before.
“If you recover earlier as a young man, you need to be more patient afterward. An extra day of treatment or just a few hours can make all the difference in the world. The presence of Zlatan was decisive in the season of his return for the reconquest of the Champions area.
“I am not saying that without him it would have been a disaster, but it is thanks to him that Milan have restarted and rediscovered a noble Europe. This is the team of Ibra, Maldini and Pioli. The group has grown around him, it is he who has rebuilt a winning mentality. And again, it is with him that in the near future Milan will be able to make a comeback in Europe too.”