Friday 9 December 2016

'The Legend' Ibrahimovic insists he's getting better with age

Luke Edwards

Published 13/06/2016 | 02:30

Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s talisman - he scored 11 goals during qualification, three of them in the play-off double-header victory over Denmark. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s talisman - he scored 11 goals during qualification, three of them in the play-off double-header victory over Denmark. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is convinced he will continue to dominate European football as he prepares to lead Sweden into their opening European Championship game against Ireland before completing an expected move to Manchester United.

  • Go To

At the age of 34, Sweden's captain insists he is physically as strong as he has ever been, but warned he will be a far more dangerous player in his sixth major international championship because he combines it with experience and mental fortitude.

Ibrahimovic once again refused to confirm he has agreed a deal to play for United, but it is understood everything is in place for him to make the move once Sweden's involvement at the Euros is over.

"I am getting better with every year that passes," said Ibrahimovic. "It's all about developing and learning new things and not being satisfied.

"You need the hunger to be a better player. That's when I feel I have accomplished something, when I learn new things. I demand new things and to learn and to work hard on the pitch. I know what I want and I know I will do it - simple as that.

"I want to play on so that I can show that The Legend can still deliver."

Ibrahimovic is Sweden's talisman - he scored 11 goals during qualification, three of them in the play-off double-header victory over Denmark - and could become the first man to find the back of the net at four successive Euro finals tournaments.

His response when it was suggested he had the opportunity to dominate a major tournament for the first time was unequivocal.

"I have been dominating wherever I go, I have no issue about that. I will continue dominating. I go in with a strong season behind me. I come here to enjoy.

"I come to France, where I have been living for the last four years now, I know the country very well. I'm 100 pc sure they know me better than I know them, so wherever I go, I enjoy it and I have been dominating wherever I go, no worries.

"I feel like I am getting better and better every year that passes. It's all about developing and learning things and not being satisfied. You have got to have the hunger to become a better player.

"That's when I feel I have accomplished something, when I learn new things. I demand of myself that I will work hard on the pitch and practise and won't just sit down and do nothing."

Asked about Ireland's assistant manager Roy Keane's assertion that he would be an excellent signing for United, Ibrahimovic responded: "I take it as a compliment because if a player like Roy Keane speaks, he knows what he's talking about, he has been in the game.

"For me, with Manchester [United], there is nothing to say. I feel happy for the moment. What the future will be, you will know soon. But I enjoy football. Wherever I go I will be the same person and I will enjoy.

"I feel strong. I go into it with a good season behind me. I have the greatest pressure on my shoulders. I want to take the pressure off the team. I'm used to it. I want to take the pressure off my team-mates as much as possible.

"I want them to enjoy it and go out and play. There is no greater honour than playing for Sweden in the Euros."

Ireland captain Robbie Keane, who at the age of 35 also insisted he can still score goals at international level, is a long-standing member of the Ibrahimovic Appreciation Society.

"How could you not like him?" Keane replied when told his opposite number had described himself as a legend on the same stage he was sat on a couple of hours earlier. "He is a top, top player, he has been doing it for a long time and he seems to be getting better.

"He has scored goals wherever he has been. He is somebody I respect and admire and he is somebody we have to watch very closely."

 

Telegraph.co.uk

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport