Sweden coach: ‘In my world Zlatan has left the national team’

Sweden coach: 'In my world Zlatan has left the national team'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photo: AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu
Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be teasing fans that he could feature at this year's World Cup, but as far as national coach Janne Andersson is concerned it is not likely.

In an appearance on ABC television's late night Jimmy Kimmel show on Tuesday, the former Sweden striker said “it wouldn't be a World Cup” if he didn't play.

The 36-year-old has previously been circumspect about his hopes of playing in the World Cup for Sweden, who qualified for the finals for the first time in 12 years when they defeated Italy in a play-off without Ibrahimovic on the pitch.

“I'm going to the World Cup, yes,” Ibrahimovic told Kimmel when asked if he would be in Russia.

When pressed by the host if he expected to attend as a player or in another capacity, Ibrahimovic was coy.

“I just said I'm going to the World Cup,” the Los Angeles Galaxy striker said. “If I say more, people will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say now.”

Speaking later, he added: “I mean, a World Cup without me wouldn't be a World Cup.”

Ibrahimovic, who last played at a World Cup with Sweden in 2006, retired from international football after the 2016 European Championship.

But Janne Andersson, coach of the Sweden national team, told Swedish media that he was not currently trying to convince Ibrahimovic to return, saying the ball was in the striker's court.

“In my world he has left the national team and he has clearly communicated that,” Andersson told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, but didn't close the door completely. “If he is interested in joining, if he changed his mind, he can get in touch and we'll talk about it.”

Watch Jimmy Kimmel's interview with Zlatan Ibrahimovic below:

Ibrahimovic said last month he wanted to concentrate on settling into his career in Major League Soccer before thinking about the World Cup.

But he admitted he was available for Russia if required.

“Let me first enjoy it here,” Ibrahimovic said on March 30th. “What happens here will take it further.”

“The World Cup is another question. I've said it before. Nobody needs to call anybody. If they want, I'm there.”

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