Ibrahimovic reveals cheeky reason behind cryptic Sweden post

The veteran striker seemingly hinted at a desire to return to international duty on the back of strong club form

AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has admitted his recent cryptic social media post was not an attempt to push for a return to the Sweden national team. 

The 39-year-old last played international football back in 2016 but did flirt with the idea of accepting a call-up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Two years later and Ibrahimovic again got fans speculating about a possible comeback by posting an image of him in a Sweden shirt on Instagram with the caption: “Long time no see.”

Speaking on Sunday after scoring an injury-time equaliser for AC Milan in a 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona in Serie A, Ibrahimovic revealed the post was done simply to annoy a select few back in his home country and not to push for a recall. 

“No, I was just trying to irritate people in Sweden,” Ibrahimovic told Sky Sport Italia

The former Manchester United forward has been in fine form this season in Italy and he has a league-high eight goals from just five Serie A appearances so far. 

While Sweden, who have lost four of their last five games, could certainly use Ibrahimovic’s goals, manager Janne Andersson had already shut down any chance of the striker being brought back into the fold

“There were some people who told me there was a plan behind that photo. But I don’t understand what it means, it’s beyond me. I won’t waste too much energy on it,” Andersson told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

“It has been four and a half years since he said he had finished his career in the national team. I have the utmost respect for him, just like many other players who have made the same decision. You can recover a bit during the international break, you don’t have the same pressures.

“If, on the other hand, you are part of the national team, you have to return to your country and play at the highest level again. I fully respect those who don’t feel this motivation 100 per cent. So, the matter is closed for me.” 

Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 116 appearances but his relationship with the national team’s hierarchy has often been strained. 

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