Zlatan Ibrahimović fought back tears from his wet eyes as he bid the game that brought him fame goodbye last weekend.
“I did not tell anyone I was leaving football. I just told the club we had to do something for the last game, but they didn’t know it was retirement.
“I thank the journalists for your patience, now you’ll have less work to do without me… From tomorrow, I am a free man from this world of football.
“It was a long career, really long, thank you to everyone who gave me the strength, the adrenaline and the emotion to continue.
“When I woke up this morning, it was raining. I said to myself: Even God is sad today.’ Even my family didn’t know what was happening today, I felt like a zombie.
“I wasn’t joking, I wasn’t talking. Just three months ago, I felt panic at the idea of retirement, but today I accept it and I feel ready. A little sad, obviously.”
“People think Ibra is Superman. Well, I am Superman, but I also have a big heart. I was looking around, trying to find a face that would give me strength, but everyone was crying!
“I looked at the players, they were crying. The fans were crying. I looked to my wife, I thought she’ll give me the strength to keep it together, but then she was crying more than anyone.”
“I arrived with great responsibility, like a pilot guiding this team and I loved that. When I was in the USA, I did not intend to come back to Europe, but Mino convinced me. I was alone before, but I shared my life with Mino. His tragedy happened and it was never the same again. If he was here, I’d continue playing because he wanted the commission. Sorry, Mino, but it’s the truth!”
On whether there will be another Zlatan: “Impossible, there is only one Zlatan! As a child, they compared me to Marco van Basten, but he is who he is and I am who I am. There might be similarities, but I don’t think comparisons are right. I doubt we’d find another Zlatan with my ego…”