Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden striker retires from international football

By Timothy AbrahamBBC Sport
Euro 2016
Venue: France Date: 10 June - 10 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Wales. Plus the BBC Sport website and app

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has retired from international football after Sweden were knocked out of Euro 2016.

The 34-year-old announced on Tuesday the tournament would be his last and he would not represent Sweden at the Rio Olympics as previously thought.

He scored 62 goals in 116 games, but failed to net at this year's Euros.

The former Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus and Inter Milan striker has been linked with a move to Manchester United since deciding to leave Paris St-Germain.

Sweden coach Erik Hamren paid tribute, saying: "In a small country like Sweden, you will not find another player like him. He's really, really unique."

Sweden failed to win any of their three Group E games in France, drawing 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland and losing to both Italy and Belgium.

"It's heavy, it's disappointing, but at the same time I enjoyed it," Ibrahimovic said. "We got the possibility to play at the Euros and represent Sweden.

"I have many fantastic memories from the national team."

Fifteen years of highs and lows

The 6ft 5in striker made his international debut as a 19-year-old against the Faroe Islands and went on to score in his first competitive match - a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup against Azerbaijan.

He announced himself on the international stage with a spectacular back-heeled goal in the group stage of Euro 2004 against Italy, but missed a penalty as Sweden were eliminated in a quarter-final shootout.

He was Sweden's main attacking threat at the 2006 World Cup but failed to find the net as they were knocked out by hosts Germany.

He failed to score a single international goal for Sweden in both 2006 and 2007 - a period marred by clashes with management and a short-lived self-imposed exile.

Although he played and scored at Euro 2008, the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup was just around the corner.

His appointment as captain for Euro 2012 qualifying reinvigorated him and he scored one of the best goals of the tournament with a volley in a 2-0 win over France, although Sweden were still eliminated at the group stage.

One of his greatest international displays came against England later that year as he scored all four goals in a 4-2 friendly win, including a magnificent overhead kick from 35 yards.

Sweden failed to reach the 2014 World Cup despite eight goals from Ibrahimovic in qualifying, although his 50th goal in a friendly win over Estonia meant he became Sweden's all-time top scorer.

The qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 promised much - Ibrahimovic scored 11 times - but his international swansong was an anti-climax.

Sweden bowed out at the first hurdle with no wins, while Ibrahimovic managed just one shot on target in 270 minutes of football.

Zlatan's Sweden career in his own words

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 'proud and grateful' of Sweden career

"Swedish style? No. Yugoslavian style? Of course not. It has to be Zlatan-style."

On whether his mixed heritage influenced the way he plays.

"What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange."

Responding to Norway striker John Carew's suggestions that his flicks and tricks were "pointless" in the run-up to a meeting between the two countries in 2002.

"I have given an apology, not because I behaved incorrectly, but because it was a badly chosen occasion."

Ibrahimovic said sorry for visiting a Stockholm nightclub straight after a poor Swedish performance in a Euro 2004 qualifier with Latvia.

"If you accuse me again, I'll break both your legs - and that time it will be on purpose."

A response to Ajax team-mate Rafael van der Vaart's claim that Ibrahimovic deliberately set out to injure him a Sweden-Netherlands friendly in 2004.

"It has always been a great honour, but for the time being I won't play for the national team because I am not motivated."

Sweden's failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup prompted Zlatan to rule himself out of playing friendly fixtures.

"You can't coach brilliance like that."

On scoring with a jaw-dropping bicycle kick to a complete a hat-trick in a friendly against England in November 2012.

"A World Cup without me is nothing to watch, so it is not worth waiting for the World Cup."

Following Sweden's defeat by Portugal in the 2014 World Cup play-offs.

"They said they were going to send me to retirement. I sent their whole nation into retirement."

A brace in Sweden's Euro 2016 play-off win over Scandinavian rivals Denmark was particularly sweet.

'Absolutely brilliant. What a player'

BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson: "It took a lot of people in England a long time to warm to him because he went a long time without scoring against Premier League opposition in the Champions League.

"But in the last two or three years he has been absolutely brilliant. What a player. If I was at Manchester United, I would take him in a heartbeat. He is still outstanding and Jose Mourinho will look after him."

Former Wales international Dean Saunders: "If he comes to England this summer, there will be at least five or six times next season when you will sit back and clap."

How social media reacted

Zlatan Ibrahimovic facts
Twitter parody account 'Zlatan Facts' reacts to the 34-year-old's retirement
Uefa Euro 2016 twitter
Uefa's Euro 2016 Twitter account paid tribute to the Sweden striker
Steve Wilson twitter
BBC MOTD commentator Steve Wilson watched Zlatan's final bow in Nice

Ibrahimovic's Sweden milestones

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
A 19-year-old Ibrahimovic made his Sweden debut in a 0-0 friendly draw against the Faroe Islands in January 2001 in front of 2,204 fans in Tipshallen
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan scored one of the most memorable goals of Euro 2004 - a spectacular backheel against Italy. His tournament ended with a penalty shoot miss in Sweden's quarter-final exit to the Netherlands
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
An international goal drought of two years, and 12 qualifying matches, was ended when he netted in Sweden's opening match with holders Greece at Euro 2008.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic scored four goals - including a breathtaking overhead kick - as Sweden beat England 4-2 in a friendly to open their new Friends Arena ground in November 2012
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
In September 2014, Ibrahimovic scored his 50th international goal in a 2–0 friendly win over Estonia, which saw him move above Sven Rydell and go top of Sweden's all-time goalscorer list.

Create leagues and play against your friends in BBC Sport's new Euro 2016 Predictor game

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC