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International football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic back for Sweden five years after retiring

Janne Andersson has called up the AC Milan striker for the games againt Georgia, Kosovo and Estonia, which will hand Ibrahimovic a national record.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic back for Sweden five years after retiring

Sweden boss Janne Andersson has called Zlatan Ibrahimovic up for games against Georgia, Kosovo and Estonia in the upcoming international break, five years after the AC Milan striker made his last appearance for his country at Euro 2016. The 39-year-old’s form for his club left Andersson with little choice but to hand Ibrahimovic another cap with the Sweden coach admitting he would be criticized “whatever I do” regarding the veteran forward.

Ibrahimovic was touted for a recall ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia but Andersson elected to keep the faith with the squad that came though qualifying after beating Italy in the playoffs. Now, five years after he last pulled on the yellow shirt, Ibrahimovic is set to earn his 117th cap for his country. Sweden have been drawn in a tricky Group B in World Cup qualifying featuring Spain, Greece, Georgia and Kosovoa and will also play La Roja at Euro 2020 this summer where Robert Lewandoswki’s Poland and Slovakia are also opponents in Group E.

Ibrahimovic on the cusp of more Sweden records

In typical understated style, Ibrahimovic simply tweeted “the return of the God,” when the squad was announced.

Assuming Ibrahimovic has been included to start and not warm the bench in the two qualifiers and the friendly against Estonia, he will become the oldest player ever to represent Sweden, overtaking goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli. If he features against Georgia for example, Ibrahimovic will be 39 years, five months and 23 days old.

Sweden’s all-time highest scorer by some distance with 62 international goals, Ibrahimovic still has some way to go before he becomes his country’s most capped player. Ravelli held that honour for many years before Anders Svensson reached 148 appearances.

Ibrahimovic will break one record, that of oldest outfield player, by overtaking Henrik Larsson’s mark set against Denmark in 2009 and he could become Sweden’s oldest goalscorer if he finds the net during the international break. The current record is held by Gunnar Gren, who was touching 38 when he scored against Denmark in 1958.