‘I’m determined to return better and stronger than before,’ Ibrahimovic said in an interview with Volvo.’ That is my goal and it will happen. There are no other options.


As he closes in on his Manchester United return after a torn cruciate knee ligament , Zlatan Ibrahimovic is raring to humiliate anyone who thinks the injury will have robbed him of his goalscoring powers.
And while those questions may not be unfounded following such a serious setback, it is already safe to say he has lost none of his swagger from seven months out after landing awkwardly trying to chest a pass against Anderlecht in the Europa League.
The 35-year-old could be named as a substitute at Old Trafford against Newcastle on Saturday.
‘I’m determined to return better and stronger than before,’ Ibrahimovic said in an interview with Volvo.’ That is my goal and it will happen. There are no other options.
‘When I’ve decided to do something, nothing is going to change my mind. I said I would take over Sweden. At breakfast I had already taken over Sweden. At lunch I took over Europe. At dinner I took over the world. That was my plan. And that is exactly what happened.’
Ibrahimovic is already ahead of the game. Upon being diagnosed with a torn cruciate, he was expected to be out until 2018. Whether he plays against Newcastle or not, his return will almost certainly be way ahead of schedule.
He does admit, however, that he was left stunned in the immediate aftermath and wondered whether he would be able to make it back. He felt ‘paralyzed’ after being confined to his bed.
‘I have never been hurt but then I felt I swallowed my tongue. It was a strange feeling I had never known before.
‘Thoughts started spinning in my head. What’s happening? I am 35, what can I do? What does the future hold? Instead of focusing one thing at a time, like normally, a lot of things were spinning around in my mind.
‘The first thing I said to myself was “giving up is not an alternative”. I have come this far and will finish on my terms, not anyone else’s.
‘I’ve got new scars that could be called tattoos. They will be memories for life. I’ll always remember what happened, what I’ve gone through and what I’ve been fighting for.
‘I remember being on crutches and lying in bed for 12 hours a day, feeling paralysed when you are used to playing and exercising every day. I am the kind of person who is always training a lot. Hard work gives you something in return, that is my philosophy.’
When Ibrahimovic does eventually make it onto the pitch, he will be wearing United’s No 10 shirt after vacating No 9 to make way for Romelu Lukau.
The Swede explained that he has always wanted to take No 10 at United but the shirt was occupied by Wayne Rooney when he joined last year.
‘When I come to a club, it should be in the contract that I will have No 10,’ Ibrahimovic said. ‘In United it was Rooney, he’s a legend and someone I respect. But now he has changed clubs.
‘Lukaku called and asked ‘can I get No 9?’ and I said ‘no problem’ because I already had No 10. That’s the way it happened. No one says ’10 is available’. In my case, when I join a new team, I get No 10 because I feel like a No 10.’
Ibrahimovic is relishing the chance to play alongside Lukaku, who has already scored 11 goals for United since joining from Everton for £75million last summer.
‘I was asked who I thought was good in the league and I mentioned Lukaku,’ Ibrahimovic said. ‘He is physically strong and he makes a lot of goals. Every team needs players like that. I am glad he is in United. I think he will help us a lot, and he already has in just a short time.’
While Ibrahimovic appears to be defying the laws of time on the comeback trail, he is happy to use his years of experience and pass on advice to youngsters at United and in Sweden.
But after being in the game for so long, he sees a altered landscape to the one that he emerged from.
‘It is different from when I used to walk to practice myself, 10km each day,’ Ibrahimovic said. ‘It is more about my experience, what I’ve been through on the pitch and guiding them professionally. Many people don’t understand the level I have taken it to. Nobody has been there. When they enter my world, they will know what pressure really is.
‘I have competed with Adriano, (Hernan) Crespo, (Lionel) Messi and Ronaldinho. They are the ones I have been fighting against. I don’t fight the average Joe from the office, with all due respect.
As (Fabio) Capello said: “you do not ask for respect, you demand respect.” That’s how it works.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here