Zlatan Ibrahimovic has once again insisted it felt like a moral obligation for him to return to AC Milan and transform the club’s fortunes.
And transform them he has. Milan have only lost twice in the league this calendar year and both of those came last season, with the Rossoneri currently sat on top of the Serie A table by five points with an unbeaten league run which now stretches to 22 games.
Ibrahimovic is also the top scorer in the league at 39 years of age with 10 goals in his first six starts, proving to all his doubters that he can still do it at the highest level.
Ibrahimovic gave an interview to the official UEFA website about his return to Milan during which he revealed his motivation for returning to the club 10 years after he first arrives.
“The first question they asked me when I returned to Milan was related to all the ex players who had returned and had not performed according to expectations, failing to repeat what they did at their first experience at Milan,” he said (via MilanNews).
“What’s the difference in my case? I simply replied that I have never lost my passion for what I do. Every time I go out on the pitch I feel like a child eating a candy for the first time. I understand that the ball is my best friend and I want to be with my best friend for the rest of my life.”
On why he returned to Milan, he added: “Life is all about challenges. I felt I had done enough and I started thinking about whether to continue or not.
“For me it was a big challenge to come back here to try to change the mentality, to try to change the situation and to convey to the team what Milan was. The Milan I know, the Milan that the whole world knows.”
On the pressure he puts on his team-mates: “When I play I bring my character, my personality and obviously my quality onto the pitch. I put a lot of pressure on my teammates, I try to get the most out of each of them.
“Some take it well, others a little less, others don’t hold up. They go into difficulty because they perform at a high level only when necessary, but I decide that we have to do it every day. The way you train is the way you play.
“Whether you are young or old I put the same pressure on you because if you are here there is a reason, you are here because you are good enough.
“But off the pitch, if you are young obviously I speak to you differently, I treat you differently, the behaviour is not the same compared to the older ones. But on the field they are all the same for me.”
There has been speculation that Ibrahimovic could sign another new deal with Milan and keep playing into his 40s, and he responded to a question on his future.
“I’m never satisfied, I always want more and maybe that’s why I’m here today and I’m able to play and do what I’m doing,” the Swede said.
“I don’t see many players, in the past and in the present, able to do the same. I consider myself like Benjamin Battuon, every day that passes I rejuvenate. I promise I will play as long as I can. As long as I am able I will play at a high level. I need to feel alive, to feel that I am giving something back.”