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Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team

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Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team
13:20 CEST+02:00
Barcelona star Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return as captain of the Swedish national team after a nine month absence, the Swedish Football Federation confirmed at lunchtime on Friday.

28-year-old Ibrahimovic joined national team coach Erik Hamrén at a press conference in the Swedbank Stadium in Malmö on Friday to announce his return to the international set up.

"It is an honour to play for the national team," Ibrahimovic said.

The star striker, who has scored 22 goals in 60 appearance for Sweden, is set to return to lead the side in the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championships in the autumn and could feature when Sweden entertain Scotland in a friendly on August 11th.

Ibrahimovic on Friday took the opportunity to explain his decision to rule himself out of international duty after Sweden's failure to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa with a loss against Denmark last October.

"After the last match when we did not qualify for the World Cup, my motivation disappeared," he said, adding that his lay off had given him a chance to think things over and spend time with his family.

"The negative thing is that I have missed playing for the national team, missed the Swedish people, to play for them and to wear the national team jersey," he said.

Ibrahimovic also referred to the appointment of former Rosenborg coach Erik Hamrén as a factor in his decision.

"It feels like he has the same mentality as I do. He has promised me a medal."

Hamrén returned the compliment at the jovial lunchtime press conference near to where the Malmö-born star began his professional career.

"A motivated Zlatan Ibrahimovic is worth gold for the Swedish national team. In my eyes he is one of the best players in the world."

Ibrahimovic is set to share the captain's armband with former Southampton midfielder Anders Svensson, who has led the team in his absence.

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