AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed that his main motivation for playing at such a level for so long is purely his love for the game of football.
Many had doubts about how the Swede would cope with playing in one of Europe’s big league at the age of 38 having just come off the back of a stint in the MLS, which the striker himself declared was almost a rehab stint following his ligament injury at Manchester United.
The response to those doubts has been incredibly impressive. Ibrahimovic has scored 14 times in 13 games in Serie A this season, and he is on course for probably the best league season of his life.
When Ibrahimovic arrived in January he had to be the quarterback of the attack, not only finishing moves but also allowing the play to come through him as a point of reference, but now he has redefined his game in such a smart way.
Ibrahimovic spoke during a long interview with the Swedish edition of Discovery+ about what motivates him to keep going above and beyond.
“When I returned to Milan, the first question they asked me was about the fact was that all the former Rossoneri who returned to the team after a few years never reached the previous standards,” he said (via MilanNews).
“They asked me what would be the difference between me and them. The answer is simple, I have never lost my passion for what I do. And when I go out on the pitch, especially since my injury, every time I touch the ball I feel like a kid eating candy for the first time.
“I am happy and grateful for every time I can wear the shoes from football, take the field, smell the grass, receive the ball and touch it as many times as possible. When I was injured I didn’t touch the ball for many months and I suffered. Imagine: 20 years of a life carried by touching the ball, basically my whole life, then there comes a time when you go from touching the ball every day to not touching it anymore.
“It wasn’t easy, also because it wasn’t a gradual thing: I touched the ball a lot and every day, then suddenly I couldn’t do it anymore. From there I realised that football is my best friend and that I want to have it by my side for the rest of my life. That’s why I feel this happiness every time I go out on the pitch. I play for Milan, at the highest level. There are many jealous people, many who would like to be in this situation, but not everyone can do it.”