Record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be coming out of international retirement to represent Sweden at the World Cup finals in Russia, the country’s Football Association said Thursday in a statement.
Speculation about the 36-year-old, who retired from the national team after the 2016 European Championships in France, has been red-hot in recent weeks.
This had followed his stunning debut for Major League Soccer (MLS) club Los Angeles Galaxy after leaving Manchester United.
The striker, who had been plagued by a knee injury for almost a year, scored a brilliant long-range volley to equalise against Los Angeles FC.
He then netted the winner with a header in stoppage time, prompting Swedish fans to hope for a comeback.
Ibra, who scored 62 goals in 116 games for Sweden, had hinted he might return, but that idea now seems to have been put on ice.
“I spoke with Zlatan on Tuesday, and he said that he hasn’t changed his mind about the national team — it’s a `no’,” Lasse Richt, chief of staff for the national team, said in a statement.
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in that case, for the same reason as with previous national team gatherings, not under consideration for the World Cup squad that national team coach Janne Andersson will announce on May 15,” the statement went on.
Sweden open their World Cup Group F campaign against South Korea on June 18 before going on to meet Germany and Mexico.(Reuters/NAN)