Zlatan Ibrahimovic nears 40: How can the Swede still perform at the highest level?

By Oliver Fisher -

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest footballers in modern history. The veteran footballer will celebrate his 40th birthday in October this year and will continue playing for Italian giants AC Milan.

Most players hang up their boots in their mid-thirties, or they play in lower divisions because they don’t have the energy to keep up with younger players, but Zlatan not only competes in one of the world’s best domestic leagues, he is one of the star players. 

He has had an incredible career, and he has been one of the best players in the top divisions in Sweden, Holland, England, Italy, Spain, America, and Italy. Nobody expected the superstar to still be playing in this day and age, so how does he do it? 

He is motivated to win the Champions League 

Throughout Zlatan’s amazing career has won 33 major competitions, including 12 domestic league titles. His Milan side were unlucky not to win the Serie A title last season, due to a poor run of form during the later stages of the league. Unfortunately for the Swedish legend, he has never won the Champions League.

Although most online betting sites like igre casino don’t feel Milan have a good chance of winning the world’s biggest club competition, Zlatan will try everything in his power to get his side as far as they can go, even at the age of 40.

He has taken on the best players in the world in the past on several occasions, so he won’t have any sleepless nights before heading into European matches. His experience is vital in the Milan dressing room, and he is known to help out the younger generation coming through the ranks. This will probably be Zlatan’s last chance of winning the trophy, so you can expect him to be fully focused. 

He takes care of his body

Just like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan doesn’t drink alcohol. He maintains a healthy lifestyle and diet and spends hours in the gym each day. He is into other sports, not just football. He adores mixed martial arts. Recently, the Italian Taekwondo team awarded the Milan attacker with an honorary black belt. This is his second black belt in Taekwondo, as he earned his first one as a teenager in Sweden.

Zlatan is dedicated to performing well on the pitch, so he understands that taking care of his body off the pitch is vital to prolonging his career. In his earlier years, especially when he joined Ajax, he would stay up all night playing video games, however, as he got older he realised that these late nights would cost him in training the following day.

He is much more focused than he used to be, which is not only good for him but for those who look up to him too. Children around the globe idolise the big Swede, and by taking care of himself off the pitch helps set a good example for the next generation. 

He doesn’t let injuries get him down

When most veteran sportspeople sustain an injury, it means their time is up, but Zlatan doesn’t carry the same mindset. When he was playing for Manchester United, arguably one of the biggest clubs on the planet, he sustained a serious ligament injury.

Most experts felt it was the end of Ibrahimovic’s career, but the Swede had other ideas. Although he claims he contemplated packing in football, he decided to give it another go. He was sidelined for approximately seven months before making a return to the big stage. 

As a person gets older, it takes longer for injuries to heal, so it is no wonder so many footballers call it a day in their career once they hit a certain age. Zlatan not only had to physically get over his ligament injury but to remain positive while sitting on the sidelines is not easy.

He missed out on the Europa Cup final due to the injury, which Manchester United won. He had been looking forward to the game because the game was being held in Malmo, his hometown. 

He sustained another injury just before the Euro 2020 began. He had decided to rejoin his Swedish teammates to help them compete in the European competition but unfortunately was unable to play due to a knee injury. He had retired from international football five years before the competition was to start, and Swedish fans were licking their lips at the prospect of watching the legend return to the national side. 

He doesn’t rely on pace

Most attackers in modern football are fast, but Zlatan has rarely relied on his pace during his career. He is a natural reader of the game, and he is built, so instead, he can rely on his wide strong frame. 

Very few players can compete with Zlatan when it comes to aerial challenges. He has scored lots of headers over the past few decades and uses his strength to battle even the toughest defenders. Smaller defenders struggle to control the Swede, as he has made a mockery of them on more than one occasion. 


Whether this is Zlatan’s final season on the big stage, only time will tell, however, he won’t be stepping away from football anytime soon. In 2020, he purchased 25% of the Swedish football club Hammarby.

This investment caused a lot of controversy in his hometown, because his former club, Malmo, where Zlatan is adored by the die-hard fans, are bitter rivals with Stockholm. However, this doesn’t seem to bother the Swede and he is determined to make his new club the best team in Scandinavia.

Only time will tell if he succeeds, and many expect Ibra to put on the Stockholm jersey before he hangs up his boots. If he was to play for Stockholm he would help the club sell a lot of tickets and help grow the side in popularity.

For now, he is still with AC Milian, and if he can play as well as he did last season, the Italian side might have a chance of winning the title. 

READ MORE: Milan searching for the perfect 10 – Understanding the role and its requirements

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