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Ibrahimovic back in Sweden squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers

At the ripe old age of 41, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back in the Sweden squad for this month’s qualifiers.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 22, 2021 Sweden's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gestures as he addresses a press conference in Stockholm, prior to the World Cup qualifier of Sweden vs Georgia to be played on March 25, 2021. - AC Milan's veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was named on March 15, 2023 in Sweden's squad for this month's Euro 2024 qualifiers, when he could break Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff's age record. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will have an opportunity to extend his record as the oldest player to have represented Sweden at full international level later this month. Ibra has been included in Janne Andersson’s 26-man squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Belgium and Azerbaijan. The AC Milan forward only recently returned to action after spending most of the season recovering from an operation on his left knee. He underwent surgery in May last year to stabilise his knee following an ACL injury.

He reappeared in Milan’s 2-0 win against Atalanta last month, coming on for the final quarter of an hour and has subsequently been used as a late sub in the games against Fiorentina and Salernitana.

Janne Andersson has included the veteran striker in his squad although there are no guarantees that he will be given a run-out. “Zlatan and I have been in contact throughout the period up to and including his injury,” the coach said. “Now he feels good enough that he can come into the squad. His personality and leadership qualities are good off the pitch, but the idea is for him to come and contribute on it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have picked him.”

All-time appearances for Sweden

  • 148 Anders Svensson
  • 143 Thomas Ravelli
  • 133 Sebastian Larsson
  • 133 Andreas Isaksson
  • 131 Kim Källström
  • 121 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • 117 Olof Mellberg
  • 116 Roland Nilsson
  • 115 Bjorn Nordqvist
  • 109 Niclas Alexandersson

Ibrahimovic’s last appearance for Sweden was almost exactly a year ago, in the 2-0 defeat to Poland in the 2022 Qatar World Cup play-offs. He is the sixth most-capped player with 121 appearances for the national team and the all-time top scorer with 62 goals. He is also the oldest player to be capped at full international level, at 40 years, five months and 26 days (versus Poland. 29 March 2022)

With limited playing time under his belt during the past month, it is unlikely that the 41-year-old will feature in the starting line-up in the two Euro 2024 qualifiers, as Andersson explained. “I don’t see him as a starting player,” he said . “It will be more like what it has been for him in Milan, that there are opportunities for him to jump in. If you are at the level where you can play for Milan, you are relevant. It is about his own attitude too in terms of whether he wants to continue or not. Zlatan is very eager and wants to contribute.”

Sweden host Belgium at the Friends Arena in Solna on Friday 24 March then face Azerbaijan three days later at the same venue.