Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed his emotions after signing a new one-year deal and exactly why he thinks Milan have a project to be proud of.
The Rossoneri announced yesterday that Ibrahimovic has renewed his contract with the club, which means he will remain into his 40s. Ibrahimovic signed his contract at Casa Milan yesterday evening before revealing his delight at extending his stay with the club he considers to be ‘home’.
He also spoke to Milan TV in an interview that has been released this evening, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below…
Today you still say yes to Milan, do you do it with the enthusiasm of the first time?
“I feel very happy, I stay another year and that’s what counts. I have always said that being at Milan is like being at home. I am very happy, the club, those who work here, my teammates, the coach, the fans, who I miss so much, make me feel good. This is like my home, if I can stay my whole life I’ll stay.”
Can you imagine the reaction of every Milan fan to your renewal behind that camera?
“I think it’s a positive reaction, everyone will be happy. Even if someone had doubts before I came back for my age I proved that age doesn’t matter, it’s all in the head. If you are willing to do certain things you can do it, my mentality is that you must always improve and do the maximum possible. Then the quality on the pitch either you have it or you don’t have it, in my opinion that doesn’t go away. You need to be physically fit and in a position to be able to do your thing. Then I adapt my game for the team, I try to help as much as possible.”
On the warm reaction of the fans on his return to the Rossoneri last year: “For this I feel welcome at Milan, thanks to the fans. From the first day I had a top feeling, I’m always trying to give my best for them because without them it’s not easy to play.
“With eighty thousand people cheering you and wanting you on the pitch it’s another thing, they have always been respectful with me. When I play I always try to do my best for everyone. This is my second round of Milan, they haven’t forgotten me, I try to give as much as possible in return.”
When you arrive at Milanello every day you see your teammates, the coach and all the people who work. How do you still feel today?
“I try to help everyone, it is a motivation, it gives me adrenaline to see these young people and their growth, from the first day I arrived to today I have seen the growth of each of them. All willing to do their best, then in my opinion they understood the sacrifice that must be made to be where we are today .”
Do you like the project of a young Milan?
“Yes, because this is how I feel young (laughs). Every day I see my teammates they make me feel young, then there is a lot of challenge and competition. When they run I have to run like them, I can’t be outdone. They challenge me, they get the best out of me.
“Then every now and then I exaggerate, maybe I have to be more calm, but this is my mentality. I like this new AC Milan project because it is a different challenge. I was used to playing with great champions who have won everything. This is another situation, you have other responsibilities.
“When you play with great champions, everything is resolved on the pitch. Here it is different, you have to take the responsibility to show what the road to success is. If you have already done this road you have experience and I want to pass it on to everyone in this team. It is a great challenge.”
On his famous goal against Lecce: “It was ten years ago, when I ran more and I could attack the spaces (laughs). The ball had arrived, I saw that the goalkeeper was out and I said: ‘Let’s try. If it goes in it goes in, otherwise there is no problem’. And it went in. When you score these goals, and it doesn’t happen every day, it gives you a special feeling. When he doesn’t go in you look like someone who has nothing to do with football, but when he comes in you are a genius. And at that moment I was a genius (laughs).”
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) April 23, 2021
Is the fact that your team-mates follow you in everything also confirmed by the fact that those who did not do cryotherapy before now do it?
“I can’t judge how it was before I came, when you are a leader and you are an example if they respect you they follow you, but there is no need to talk so much. They have this respect and they say to themselves ‘If he does it and has won so much then it’s the right way’.
“Words are not enough, you have to do the facts. I was lucky enough to play with champions when I was young, I watched and followed them. Now I have a different role, the others follow me and I’m trying to do everything to help. Then everyone, rightly, has their own personality and character.”
If you try to close your eyes, where will you and Milan arrive together?
“I see great things. When I got to the middle of the championship, and if you look up to a year later, we were always first. If this had started earlier today there would have been another trophy on the showcase. But now we have to continue, normally if you do well for a year you get something, but now we have done well for a year and it is not finished yet.
“It is close, we must continue like this and believe, because if you believe nothing is impossible. We demonstrated, when many spoke and judged ‘This Milan bla bla bla’ we on the pitch gave all the answers. We have worked with sacrifice and shown that we can do it. Then when you win something you are hungry, you always want more. That’s the secret, but first you have to win.”
Will AC Milan make it to the Champions League?
“We must believe in what we do, if we continue to believe in it then we will succeed. Nothing is finished yet, nothing is impossible, everyone has their own goals. My goal is to win, if I don’t win there is disappointment. But this is my mentality, everyone has their own. We have to believe it, this is the secret.”
On his presentation at San Siro in 2010: “A beautiful day, I was very excited, I already wanted to play. I arrived from Barcelona from a bad moment, my smile returned at this moment: I realised how beautiful it is to play football.
“Then with a full San Siro it’s a top thing, and this is now something that bothers me: a year without fans is not easy. If there had been fans this year we would have had a few more points, they give you adrenaline. I am so sorry that they are not there, I miss them so much.”
Are the team all a bit like your children, and are they all the same or do you like to interpret the characteristics of each one and their personalities?
“On the pitch we are all the same, we have the same goals, but then everyone treats him differently. My job is to stimulate everyone. When I’m not in Italy and I’m not like the team I have to say that I miss them a lot, like I miss all my children in Sweden; on the other hand, when I am out of Italy I miss 25 children.”
If you were asked to see your name linked to Milan even off the pitch, would you see yourself in the Rossoneri even after your career as a footballer?
“Now I am very focused on my responsibilities, on and off the pitch. One thing at a time, what will happen next I don’t know. This was supposed to be an adventure of only six months and instead now we are already with one more year. Let me do this first and then let’s talk about the second phase of my life.”
Does the same answer apply if one day you were asked to be a coach?
“I can’t say yes or no, because if I say yes I do it by word of a gentleman. Being a coach is not easy, because it is more stressful than being a footballer because you have to transform all your information on others and they have to do what you say. But you never know eh…”
Pioli dedicated a quote to him from the film :The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’…
“What we went through last year was not easy. Every game Pioli told me ‘Ibra, be good’ and I was bad, at the next game ‘Ibra, be bad’ and he was good, but he commanded when he wanted… We played these games. You don’t know people at first, but from day one it was very easy with him.
“Pioli has the right mentality, every day he has this energy that he transmits to everyone, he wants the best from the team. He calls me in the morning and asks me: ‘Where are you, I’m already working’. He challenges me like this.”
Can you say that today you are more of a target man? “Yes, I am adapting my game to help the team in the best possible way. I can’t play like I did 10 or 5 years ago, because the physique and style of play change.”
How did you see the team in the two legs against Manchester United?
“We have shown that we can fight against these great teams, in two games we have shown that we are stronger at that moment than them and that we deserve more. These matches are useful because they give you value in what you do: the league is needed because it takes you to Europe, the Europa League was used to make the team understand what we play for. Then if the Champions League is better, it is the biggest tournament there is and it is what we are fighting for every day.”
Did you talk to Pioli after that substitution in Milan-Bologna last summer?
“That time I spoke first and then him, the next day in reverse. But it’s normal: when you feel good and you are well you want to play as much as possible, but Pioli wants to protect me and save me for the next game. I don’t know if it’s my problem, but my mentality of being there until the end, of giving my best because if I give my best I know that my colleagues will do the same: with the adrenaline you have you are never satisfied until the end.”
Is it true that you always called Milanello when you were with Sweden? “Yes, after 5 years without the national team I missed Milanello and my team-mates. I missed it, I was not used to it. The atmosphere in the team is top, there is talk on and off the pitch. The secret of this team is the atmosphere ”.
Even the official Milan chef dedicated a message to Ibra, giving him the ‘truffle dog’…
“Miki is a great chef, I’m the only one who attacks him when the pasta isn’t good. They told me that he would not be present before the derby, but I called Galliani and Miki managed to come; we then won the derby. He is an important person for us, he knows many champions in the history of Milan, he has a lot of energy and is a great person.”
Is it because of your great mentality that you are still here at Milan?
“I feel that I have a lot of responsibility even when it seems easy. You have so much excitement for the game, adrenaline of the moment, that if my teammates see me running a little more they will do it twice as much, if I can do things that I normally don’t do my colleagues will too. But they serve me more than I do to them.
“Then in the game you want to win, because when you win you feel good. However, everything starts with training and that’s what I brought to this group: in training when we play, we play to win. Those who play against me know that I want to win and then carry what they have learned in training into the game.
“Except that you can’t make mistakes in a match like in the week, but that’s why we train, to learn from the mistakes we make so as not to repeat them in an official match. When you win there is a top feeling, you cover all mistakes and problems with victory. I like to win, I don’t know if I’ve learned it or it’s inside me, but I like it and I feel good. It must be like this every day.”