Zlatan has ‘sense of panic’ about retirement

Veteran AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said he feels a sense of “panic” at the prospect of retiring from football.

Ibrahimovic, 40, becomes a free agent at the end of the season but wants to extend his contract with the Serie A leaders for at least a further year.

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“I do feel a slight sense of panic at the prospect of retirement,” Ibrahimovic said. “I will certainly keep playing for as long as possible, as long as I can get results and I’m not suffering. I want to end my career without regrets, so I have to maximise my time.”

Ibrahimovic left Manchester United for MLS side LA Galaxy but returned to Europe in January 2020 and has performed at a high level in his second stint at AC Milan, helping them to qualify for the Champions League and challenge for the Serie A title.

“I know the adrenaline I feel now will never be the same,” Ibrahimovic, who began his career at Malmo in 1999, said. “We are programmed to wake up, go to training, return home and rest.

“This goes on for 20-25 years, but one day I will wake up and have nothing planned, and that will be a strange feeling.”

Ibrahimovic recently returned to action after recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury that kept him sidelined for six weeks.

A strict diet and a rigorous training regime is believed to have allowed the Swede to maintain peak fitness.

“I won’t be able to play for 90 minutes,” he said. “I’m getting older but I’m still in good form.”

Ibrahimovic, who is Sweden‘s all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 120 appearances, was called back a year ago to the national team after a four-year absence.

Asked what he plans to do once he hangs up his boots, Ibrahimovic said: “I don’t know, we’ll see when the day comes. I could start straight from when I retire, or take a break, or disappear completely.

“I think the greatest sadness will be yours, as you won’t get to watch me play anymore. You should enjoy it now, because you’ll never see the likes of me again.”

Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, is focusing on helping Sweden qualify for the 2022 World Cup. “We will go to Qatar,” he said.

Ibrahimovic is suspended for Thursday’s World Cup semifinal playoff against the Czech Republic but if Sweden progress, he will be available for the playoff final against Poland on March 29.

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