Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a very important player for Milan’s rise in the last one and a half years or so, changing the mentality of the team along with head coach Stefano Pioli. Unfortunately, he’s struggled with injuries as of late.
The Swede missed around half of last season due to injuries, suffering one serious in the first half of the season and then another in the second half. He only just returned to the pitch but was forced to stop again, although it’s not as serious.
In an interview with the weekly edition of Gazzetta Dello Sport, namely SportWeek (via MilanNews), Ibrahimovic spoke about the recent success of Milan. He also admitted that he must listen to his body these days, the mind is only 50% of it all.
“When I arrived and asked in the locker room how many had played a match in the Champions League, so few raised their hands. I thought it was a joke… But the goal was the Champions League and winning the Scudetto, I was not successful in that, but we came close, we finished second.
“It is not only thanks to me, we did a great job all together. The comrades, even the young and inexperienced ones, understood what it takes to get where we arrived last May, but also that something is missing to finish first. We are all working a lot on this.”
On how to overcome fatigue…
“When fatigue comes in the game, the head is not always there, you have to make decisions quickly and it is easy to make mistakes at that point. You think slowly. I wanted something that would help keep concentration. I had seen on TV Tiger Woods playing with chewing gum in his mouth, the commentator said he needed to keep his hunger down. And I realized what I needed: I can’t walk around the field with a bottle, but with chewing-gum yes. Now in the Milan locker room, they are selling like hotcakes. I take it before the game and keep it until it loses its flavour.”
On his physique…
“When I was young I just played, even though I had tendon pain, like today. I wanted to win and score, full stop. With time and experience, I discovered my head. And I realized how important it is that you talk to the body. Well, now my head is fine, but my physical body is getting old, it can’t always keep up with it and it’s a problem… This year I have to listen to my body, it sends me every little signal. Only in this way can I avoid worse consequences. And to play, as I want, all the games with continuity. Not like last year. I have to carry my body with me every day and listen to it. Think day by day, slowly. And to think that… I’m not Superman!”
This afternoon, Milan will take on Spezia and fortunately, Olivier Giroud is back in action so they will have a target man up front. The lack of one was evident against Venezia, so it’s a boost for the Rossoneri.