Wednesday 22 November 2017

How Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole the show at the Europa League final with his 33rd major trophy

Callum Davis

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's knee injury meant that he was unable to take part in Manchester United's Europa League triumph, but that did not stop the Swede taking centre stage on Wednesday night.

The final could prove to be Ibrahimovic's last appearance as a Manchester United player with the 34-year-old yet to confirm whether he renew his one-year contract with the club.

Manchester United's injured Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrives to watch the UEFA Europa League final
Manchester United's injured Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrives to watch the UEFA Europa League final

The striker, who is currently undergoing rehabilitation on a long-term knee injury, arrived in style before kick off at the Friends Arena - reclining with his leg back as he was driven into the stadium on a buggy.

The 34-year-old watched the majority of the match from the stands but as United closed in on victory the Swede made his way down to pitch-side on crutches.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the match
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the match

Jose Mourinho made a point of embracing Ibrahimovic, who made such a pivotal contribution to United's season, with just minutes left of normal time.

At the final whistle Ibrahimovic did away with his crutches to limp onto the Friends Arena pitch and congratulate his fellow teammates.

Manchester's injured player Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes a selfie after winning the Europa League
Manchester's injured player Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes a selfie after winning the Europa League

Dressed in black jeans and a black hoody the former Ajax striker made his way over to his United teammates as they celebrated in the centre of the pitch.

There was some suggestion the striker, who finished the season as the club's top goalscorer in competitions, would lift the trophy along with captain Wayne Rooney but in the event Ibrahimovic took up safe position at the back of the podium.

Ibrahimovic took the opportunity to take a podium-selfie with fellow injured stars Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo as Wayne Rooney lined up to lift the trophy aloft.

As the team embarked on a lap of honour around the Friends Arena Ibrahimovic paused to take a photo in front of a fan banner calling for the Swede to remain at the club.

"Zlatan, stay and you can s*** my wife," read the banner as smirking Ibrahimovic posed in front of jubilant fans.

The celebrations continued into the changing rooms where the team posed for obligatory post-match selfies.

Nr 33

A post shared by IAmZlatan (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on

In a photo posted to his Instagram page Ibrahimovic posed with his injured right leg inside the famous European trophy with the caption "number 33."

"I regret not being able to play this game. It is normal, I wanted to be on the pitch but the situation is this," said Ibrahimovic after the match.

"I had a different role, I supported the team, but what matters is that we won.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates with the trophy
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates with the trophy

"That's the most important thing because this is a collective trophy.

"You win and lose together. Now we raised another trophy, which is the third this year of the five available."

Telegraph.co.uk

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