Zlatan open to possible Sweden return

Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he has missed playing for Sweden, opening up the prospect of a comeback.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he has missed playing for Sweden, opening up the prospect of a comeback.

Sweden great Zlatan Ibrahimovic shows no signs of planning to retire from football at the age of 39 and has now openly admitted that he "misses" playing for his country.

The AC Milan forward was honoured on Tuesday with his record 12th Golden Ball as Swedish player of the year.

When asked by Stockholm daily Aftonbladet about a possible comeback for his national team, Ibrahimovic said: "If you ask, I'll answer honestly: Yes, I miss the national team. That's no secret."

Ibrahimovic retired from international football after the Euro finals in 2016, chalking up 62 goals in 116 appearances for Sweden. He is the country's all-time leading goalscorer.

"So when you ask me, 'do you miss the national team?'. Yes. Because I want to be at Friends Arena [the national stadium], I want the Yellow Wall or whatever we call it," he said of the yellow-shirted fans.

Recalling the thrill of running onto the pitch wearing the national jersey, he said: "Anyone who does not miss it, he has already ended his career. And I have not finished my career."

He was asked what he would answer if Sweden coach Janne Andersson called him to ask if he was interested in returning to the national team.

"I'd have answered, 'give me time, I will think about it.' But it must come from him. Because if he thinks I'm a distraction, then I'm not interested. If he thinks I can contribute something, then I'll think about it, " he said.

Andersson, who took over at the helm after Ibrahomivic retired and faced some barbed remarks from the veteran over some of his selections, welcomed his words.

"I read the interview with Zlatan this morning. First of all, it's great to hear that he misses the national team," Andersson said in a statement.

"As for the question of playing for the national team, I perceive it as if Zlatan is now speaking in a way he has not done before. Therefore it's natural that we have some form of contact in the future to discuss the matter."

Australian Associated Press