Monday 24 July 2017

Mourinho reveals how Ibrahimovic helped Manchester United win Europa League final without even playing

Despite being restricted to a watching brief manager Jose Mourinho revealed the 35-year-old had a big impact

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 24: Zlatan Ibrahimovi of Manchester United celebrates after the victory during the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United at Friends Arena on May 24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images)
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 24: Zlatan Ibrahimovi of Manchester United celebrates after the victory during the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United at Friends Arena on May 24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images)

Ben Burrows

Jose Mourinho has revealed Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a key role in Manchester United's win over Ajax despite not playing.

The Swedish striker has become a talismanic figure since joining on a free transfer from Paris St-Germain last summer and was the club's top scorer before his season was prematurely ended with a knee injury picked up in the closing stages of the Europa League semi-final win over Celta Vigo.

That injury kept him on the sidelines in Stockholm on Wednesday night as goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured the win and an all-important spot in next season's Champions League.

But despite being restricted to a watching brief manager Mourinho revealed the 35-year-old had a big impact, particularly on the Friends Arena ball boys.

"I think it's so unfair what happened to him," he said about Ibrahimovic missing the match in his native Sweden. "Sometimes football is unfair, sometimes life is unfair, I think it's so unfair.

"This night would be an amazing night if he was on the pitch, in his hometown, in the stadium where his statue will be, his first club when he left Sweden, his actual club in Manchester United, a season where he made an amazing impact, I'm really, really, really sorry Zlatan has not played this final.

"But he played. He played outside with crutches with the other guys, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, they were playing behind the bench shouting, they were doing everything.

"And on top of it, Zlatan in Swedish told the ball boys in the second-half to take it easy, so even outside he was playing for us.

"So I am so pleased he finally gets a European trophy."

Independent News Service

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport