In the minutes after the Swedes hung on for a goalless draw on Monday that secured one of the big World Cup upsets, Ibrahimovic wrote “We are Zweden” on Instagram next to a photo of the delighted team, deliberately adding the 'Z' of his name to his country's.
In the post-match press conference, coach Janne Andersson was irritated by reporters' focus on whether their veteran former star could again pull on the yellow jersey at the finals in Russia next year.
“This is incredible. This player stopped playing with Sweden a year and a half ago and we are still talking about him,” Andersson told reporters. “We need to talk about the great players we have in this team.”
Italy totally dominated Monday's match but Sweden earned a return to the World Cup for the first time since 2006 thanks to Jakob Johansson's strike in the bruising first leg in Stockholm.
“I have never experienced anything like this,” said goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was overjoyed at the against-the-odds victory.
“Jaaaaaaaa! It will be the World Cup for Sweden in 2018 after two strong matches against Italy… Congratulations to the national team!” he wrote on Facebook.
Newspaper Dagens Nyheter could hardly believe the result either, calling it “surreal”.