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Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 16 Jul 2010, 13:20

Published: 16 Jul 2010 13:20 GMT+02:00

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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."

Story continues below…

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.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:25 July 16, 2010 by Mzungu
Playing for Sweden,likely to be the only games he will play a full ninety minutes during next season...

14:50 July 16, 2010 by Jes
Shame on you Hamren !

This boy has done everything to show that his heart is not with the Swedish national team . Why the hell can you not build a squad from players that are committed to the cause ?

Well , some may say that Zlatan is the only "star" in Sweden today . But where was he when Sweden failed to qualify for South Africa ?

I feel disgusted by all the hype , Zlatan`s skills are limited as Barcelona has found out. Besides , no player ,however good , should hold a whole nation at ramsom .

Zlatan should first apologize to the whole nation before he is allowed to play for Sweden again .
15:19 July 16, 2010 by StockholmSam
"He has promised me a medal."


What has this joker done for Swedish football?
15:40 July 16, 2010 by arslan11
Best move.. give respect and support to the best available player player in Sweden..

He will certainly help the team to qualify for next Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine..
15:41 July 16, 2010 by Angusthefirst
@ Jes

Where was he? He was up front getting marked by the opposition's best defenders while Mellberg hoofed the ball up to his general direction under the tutleage of long-ball Lagerback. After Sweden failed to qualify, he took a few months away from the national team, what's the big deal? "Have to apologize to the whole nation", "holding a nation at ransom"? Relax and have a lie down, you're getting a bit worked up aren't you?

Playing under a coach who's only tactic was to hoof it long and hope for some luck obviously got to him after a while, as it would any quality player. He now has a new manager who will most likely not play football as it was played in England in the 60's. He might even play it to Zlatan's feet once in a while.
16:15 July 16, 2010 by Nachos
This is the LAST thing that the national team needs. It's time that Zlatan just put an end to his joke of an international career and let players like Toivonen and Marcus Berg take over. You know, people who actually WANT to play and represent their country.
16:29 July 16, 2010 by Angusthefirst
Surprise, surprise, the biggest racist and SD supporter who comments in this paper (Nachos) doesn't like Zlatan... Who would have thought???
17:37 July 16, 2010 by Tutu
why should zlatan apologise. There is no future for him in the swedish team. before any good thing could come out of sweden, he would have been too old to continue playing. He made a choice not to play again for sweden and the coach begged him to come back. . DONT APOLOGISE ZLATAN. he might not be good enough for barca but he is more than enough for sweden and the coach knows dat. It is swedish loss if they dont want him.
18:23 July 16, 2010 by Beavis
It will be a good sub to have on the bench.
18:47 July 16, 2010 by Jes
@ Angusthefirst ,

you are as silly as your @name if you don´t see what is at stake here .

Just listen to what the chap says himself : He lost his motivation when Sweden failed to qualify .

What a load of bull crap !

He was the Captain of the ship who jumped . How can any one guarantee that this coward will not loosehis motivation , again , next week ?

Football is played by men with guts . Sometimes you win , sometimes you don´t . But you just don`t quit just because you lost your nerve , only to come back and smile about it .

Sorry my friend , but I donnot think that Zlatan is one of those players that is so special that the other 21 national team members can do without . I need to remind you that a few of them got even more dissappointed over the failure to qualify than him . Why ? because for them the World Cup could be the only chance they coulld have to show their skills to the World . Not many sit on Barca `s bench like he does .

Should Zlatan apologize ? YES , if he has the guts and the character. He owes it to the men who stayed on the ship .

Also , I don`t no buy all this crap about pride and how he misses wearing the Flag , blay blay blay . If he was still the player he and some of you thought he was before Barcelona exposed that he is overrated, he would still be outthere claiming that he cannot trace his motivation .

As things stand right now , he needs the Swedish team more than it needs him .

Finally , forget the racist from SD . Surely ,you just cannot let your judgement get influenced by the idiot .
21:59 July 16, 2010 by Mike #1986
zlatan cant play he was a star in italy and they cant play either!!!!

his over rated and rich bugger him he just going to walk out on the team again because he cant get any goals in like always.
22:40 July 16, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
@Angusthefirst - why does disliking Zlatan equate with racism?
22:50 July 16, 2010 by grantike
what a talented but over-rated player,no wonder no team will pay hell to get him like barcelona did .now he needs pr to come back when others need pr to move from different club carreer to improve .so after being on the bench at barca.he needs to play at national team so clubs can see him play again.oooppssss zlatan i suggest you play at championship this season.more bench will not do you better this season cos villa is waiting.hahahahahahahahah
23:45 July 16, 2010 by blondelover
As if other players in Swedish team are good players. World known best Swedish soccer player in history is Zlatan, this none can erase it written in history books and nobody believes in your lame arguments.

By the way, One guy cant turn around a team to Win. In the end its a team play. So, other players should learn skills from him . Most of the star players are not succeed much in international games.

@ Jes-- It seems that your best than Zlatan, may be you can go in swedish team and make Sweden to play for next WC.

If, we dont have some skills in it and try to motivate the peoples, who are good in that so that they can shine.. people like you cheer like this, How come a player can play with focused. TD

@beavis - might be your can play instead of him SB.
02:05 July 17, 2010 by Seltue12
@Blonelover...why will you make such a reckless statement that "the World known best Swedish soccer player in history is Zlatan?" Haven't you hear about Henrik Edward Larsson? Arguably Henrik Edward Larsson ia the world best Swedish soccer player not Zlatan.he moved to Helsingborg, where he was one of the key players when they qualified to Allsvenskan 1993. Larsson then moved to Feyenoord for four years before leaving for Celtic in 1997. He won four league titles in seven years with Celtic, scoring 242 goals in 315 competitive matches, before moving to Barcelona, where he won two league titles and the Champions League, with a world class performance in the UEFA Champions League Final in a 2-1 win against Arsenal, assisting both of Barcelona's goals. Following the expiration of his contract at Barcelona, Larsson returned to his hometown club of Helsingborg, and joined Manchester United on a brief loan spell between January and March 2007.

Unlike Zlatan, Larsson's international record is impressive with 37 goals in 104 games, many of which he played in midfield or as a winger. Zlatan is just coming back to Sweden National team to keep him in the spot light because at Barcelona he not getting that.
06:39 July 17, 2010 by Nachos
Naturally, someone had to bring race up. I guess there are a lot of "racists" on this thread since many of them seem to be against Zlatan. Augustthefirst, you should go over to the thread about how the 2 Muslims tried to kill Lars Vilks and post your thoughts. This thread is about football and whether or not Zlatan fits into the national team or not. I say it's time Sweden gave it's very promising younger players a chance to develop. Toivonen and Berg are the future.

And to "blondelover" who said Zlatan is the best Swedish player ever.... you are either saying this because you support Zlatan since he is from an immigrant-family or because you are just plain ignorant.
10:59 July 17, 2010 by Beavis
Eric Harmen has cleary shown that he is not willing to build his team around Zlatan (thankfully) He has also shown that he wants to play football to feet and not long ball. However he also realises that latan is an over rated target man, and I can see him using him as a "super sub" bringing him on in the 70th minute of so.

Zlatan would be way down the pecking order of recent well known players outside Sweden, obviously with Henrik Larsson topping the list.(The likes of Ravelli, Mellberg,Brolin, even Anders Limpar would be ahead of him)

Agree the Harmen needs to find a good strike parner for Berg.(Not Zlatan!)
11:15 July 17, 2010 by Jes
@ Beavis , Erik Hamren has shown that he is a spineless sucker . Of course he is willing to build his team around the chap who is unpredictable , lacks manners - a "Captain" whose motivation is questionable.

@ Blodlover , this is football . If it was about blond hair , Zlatan would win it hands down.
15:12 July 17, 2010 by Beavis
If you saw his only game in charge so far, youll see thats quite clearly not the case.Both strikers were willing to shoot and the wingers.

Sweden will still struggle against Holland (on less they have gone into self desruct mode again) and Finland and Hungary.

He wants to "give him a medal" .. sounds very like Dastardly giving Mutley a medal..:)
01:27 July 18, 2010 by Jannik
Zlatan is an overrated, moneygrubbing and arrogant pr*ck, who should never be elected to the swedish national team again.

I really hate this douchebag.

He doesnt fit very well into the swedish team organization either. And is notoriously lazy and a moody player, who only performs decently when on a roll. When the team is in trouble, he is a liability.

The swedish national side has for decades had the reputation of fielding a physically strong, well organized and disciplined team. All this is compromised when bringing Zlatan in.

Giving him the responsibility of captaning the team, is just plain insane.

The best thing would be to scrap him, and whole heartedly return to the virtues that made Sweden a solid side.

Zlatan should have chosen to play for Bosnia instead, this is where his heart lies.
11:55 July 18, 2010 by Nachos
Jannik, that was spot on. Totally agreed.
12:18 July 19, 2010 by Angusthefirst

Disliking Zlatan does not equal racism, just an observation in my 6 years living here, playing football with immigrants and average Svenssons that the average Svenssons tend to prefer a hard-working, technically limited, run-around-like-a-headless-chicken striker like an Allback to a Zlatan type. The immigrants from places like South America love him. I was just commenting that The Local's resident racist Nachos saying he didn't like Zlatan was absolutely no surprise at all.

@ jes

You are completely over-reacting, you need to clam down. Put yourselves in Zlatan's shoes here for a second. He has played under this dull, long-ball manager for years in the national team, scoring inportant goals in qualifications (think twice against Hungary) and in major tournaments for his country (on one leg against an amazing Spain team and Greece in last Euro, Italy previous Euro) all of this DESPITE ridiculous long-ball tactics that in no way utilised his skills at all, AND HE WAS/IS THE TEAMS BEST PLAYER AND MATCHWINNER: TACTICS SHOULD REVOLVE AROUND HIM. Finally, after not qualifying in a very tough group (Denmark were not going to be denied by the Swedes again, Portugal are class), the guy takes a few meaningless friendlies off to re-charge the batteries. That is all. Stop acting like an hysterical old woman Jes, "national apology" etc etc. Ridiculous.

The level of Zlatan bashing in this paper is not surpising. You have a bunch of english expats who equate good footballers with "passion" "getting stuck-in" and the like who hate a creative, if at times lazy, genius like Zlatan no matter what he has done in the past (his record is amazing), and on the other hand you have Swedes who are bred on the English league style of football (passion etc.), mixed in with the conformist, consensus, team nature of their society who hate a bloke like Zlatan who can be a little brash (I think he's refreshingly funny and good for Sweden) and is a brilliant individual who doesn't make all the right "noises" like Henke does (for right noises insert say absolutely nothing in interviews, put everything back to the team and never answer questions honestly).

It's a joke the way this bloke gets treated in this country, he should be more appreciated.
12:54 July 19, 2010 by Beavis
Well if you had seen the Denmark vs Sweden match, you would have seen that Sweden lost the match because the team was built around Zlatan..who fluffed 9 clear chances in front of goal. Yu dont build a team round someone who scores (and misses!) tap ins. If he was a gifted midfielder sure, but hes far from it. Swedens best player was by far Olof Mellberg in WC qualification.
13:35 July 19, 2010 by Angusthefirst
It was one game for gods sake: strikers, no matter who they are will miss chances every now and again. Compared to when he literally saved Sweden in qualification during a couple of qualifying campaigns against Hungary in the very last second with pressure goals the guy is allowed a night off. That's football.

I'm sorry but long balls to Zlatan's head is exactly the opposite of having a game plan suited to a player like him: it is a system based on percentages of getting the ball in the "right areas" and is purely looking for luck from a deflection or a striker good in the air. Zlatan is not good in the air, it's a system that should never be used with a player like him in your team. The long ball system is reserved for old-school managers big on passion like Pulis and Allardyce and is favoured by some in Sweden because of the large hold English football has had over the Swedes since the 60's. Hence Lagerback.

And to Jes and all of the others complaining about Zlatan "abandoning" the national team for a few meaningless friendlies, what did you have to say about your golden boy Henke constantly retiring from the national team over the past 10 years? Now that was REALLY holding the national team to ransom. And you lot have the audacity to criticise Zlatan for taking off games that mean nothing? Hypocrites.
14:12 July 19, 2010 by Jes
@Angusthefirst ,

you are probably Zlatan`s agent. I understand your pain therefore.

Sorry ,but your mule is unfit to Captain even a team of reasonable pigs . He quit and should stay outthere searcing for his motivation . We pray he finds and stuffs it .

You are going to blame the long ball as if the fool does not play for Barca ?

Come on now , the chap has been exposed as a lazy stiff who gets confused when he is confronted by intelligent defenders. As others around him are thinking about attacking on a pace , he is about slowing it down. That is why Barca is letting him go if he wants ; that is why he is back in the Swedish team , to try and rehabilitate his fading profile .

Okay , he may have his 15 minutes of brilliancy . But so would Pele at 72 with a pay of 50.000 dollar a week . Put Pele at 10 give him ten matches and he will score one that you little brained people will talk about for years .

BTW : I would be surprised if Zlatan apologized . It takes a cultured man to do that , you know !
14:28 July 19, 2010 by Angusthefirst
No mention of Henke constantly retiring from the national team and not apologising Jes? Thought so. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. It was a few meaningless friendlies. The likes of Anders Svensson have not had to back up mid-week to play champions league and cup competitions and try to cement a place in the best team in the world WHILE INJURED. After putting up with long-ball Lagerback for as long as Zlatan did and saving their bacon time and time again like Zlatan did, if I was Zlatan I would have taken a couple of months off too! What were you doing when Zlatan scored last minute winners against Hungary in qualifying or brilliant goals at the last couple of Euro's? I'm not even a Swede but I was certainly jumping up and down. Were you not celebrating? He has done a hell of a lot for your country.

Barcelona is a notoriously tough place for a foreigner, not having grown up in their renowned system, to thrive in. The great Thierry Henry struggled more than Zlatan has but would not have to put up with the ridiculous attacks that Zlatan does unfortunately often from native Swedes who forget how often he has saved them (and I'm sure these hypocrites were often cheering loudly, I was at Kungstragarden when Zlatan scored the thunderbolt against Greece, the thousands there certainly liked him!). Through a season riddled with injury and in a team packed with goal scorers (a midfield with Messi and Iniesta, can it get more potent????) he still manages to score 16 goals and 7 assists in 26 league. A real failure that.....

I'm not his agent, just a football lover who plays with a lot of immigrant Swedes that have enlightened me about the Swedish habit of Zlatan bashing. It makes no sense.
15:34 July 19, 2010 by Jes
We are talking about Zlatan now , aren´t we ?

Henke ?

I have a few opinions about him too . For all his skills , he did show that he can`t take a decision and stick to it . I may be one of the few who think that "come-backs" are for confused minds. Once you have done your bit , especially when you have made a lot of money at it , go go goooooo and let us watch someone else . There are signs that Henke still lives in two or three minds -and that is a shame .

How old are you ? You sound like a small child talking about a damaged beloved toy .

Man , get over one or two goals the chap has scored . Sweden was not in South Africa and is yet to qualify for EU .

So Barcelona is notoriously tough for a foreigner ? Tell that to Messi , Ato´0 , Figo , Romario , Ronaldinho and 4+ top players from Holland who played there . They may have a different view .

15:57 July 19, 2010 by Angusthefirst
Ah, excuse me, I sound like a small child?? You are the one, after a player takes a few meaningless friendly games, who cries hysterically that they should "apologise to the nation." I am simply calling you out on this complete and utter over-reaction: very childish behaviour if you ask me.

I brought up Henke because hypocrisy is rife with Swedes when it comes to Zlatan. How many, like you have done answering this article, whined and demanded ridiculous things like "national apologies" when Henke constantly RETIRED (not just had a well earned sabbatical) from the national team? I bet you didn't care and there was no outrage from Swedes then. I remember people were even very THANKFUL to Henke from what I remember. But Zlatan, well that's a different matter. You, and many of your countrymen, are hypocrites and you're rightly being called on it. Your hypocrisy is exactly why Henke is brought up.

Yes Sweden wasn't in South Africa, but if not for Zlatan would NEVER have qualified for 2004,06 and 08 championships. Why blame him for the one qualification you DIDN'T achieve and not give him credit for the other qualifications? How was it Zlatan's fault that you didn't qualify? That last minute goal against Hungary was the only reason you had a chance to qualify anyway You'll qualify for Euro and Zlatan will thrive under a manager who is half decent. Blame your spineless Football Associaition for not sacking Lagerback after the Euro's and Lagerback himself for not walking for your failure to qualify. Not Zlatan.

Yes Barcelona is tough for new players, I stand by that. Messi moved there when he was 14, the others are exceptional, many of them are dutch and benefit from the fact that one of their coutryme, Cruyff, had such a huge influence in both the BARCA and Dutch football setups. And Zlatan having scored 16 goals out of 27 games in the best team in the world is not a "failure". You are too dramatic.
16:44 July 19, 2010 by Jes
That "Hungary goal" again !!

I take it that you have run out things to say . If was the fools fault that Sweden failed to qualify for SA , why the hell did he run?

Lagerback , was not sacked ? What do you expect ? This is the same toothless Association that is looking on as this sucker switches his motivation on and off .

Now Barcelona is no longer tough for "foreigners " but for new players -" the others are exceptional " and you want to talk about being " too dramatic" ?

Why don?t you try to make up your mind before you press : SEND
16:58 July 19, 2010 by Angusthefirst
It's 2 Hungary goals actually, you remember that other cracker against the Lothar Matheus led Hungarians. Saved you from missing that tournament.

Exactly, your FA has a lot to answer for keeping on such an insipid manager for so long. It is not Zlatan's fault. Henke's "retiring" is arguably more to blame.

As most new players are foreigners the term is interchangeable. Yes, I would class Figo, Messi, Romario and Cruyff as "exceptional" players. As would anyone with a brain.

I'm pressing send and have made up my mind that you have absolutely no idea about football and your unjustified hatred of Zlatan clouds any small amout of knowledge you have.
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