Regrets and second guessing are not characteristics you would readily associate with one of the most confident players in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Nevertheless, the Manchester United star appears to be wrestling with the looming reality of his footballing mortality.
Now 35, the striker has retired from international duty and is likely to have only a handful of seasons left before finally hanging up his boots altogether.
In an interview with the United website, Ibrahimovic expressed the desire to have combined his late-career wisdom with the energy and vitality of youth.
“I think I play much more intelligently now because, of course, you change a lot during the years,” he said.
“You get a different physique, you get a different condition, strengths and experiences. But I wish I had the mind that I have today 10 years ago, because then I [would have been] even more phenomenal.”
Ibrahimovic at least has a positive outlet for any such wistful emotions, the Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1 title-winner having taken it upon himself to nurture emerging United talent and fellow forward Marcus Rashford.
“I try to help in every way I can with my experience and the goals will come,” he said.
“Goals are extra, a bonus let’s say. If I score, then I help the team, but I think I can help in many ways and this is the experience thing. Marcus is a young player, his career has just begun and I am towards the end of my career.
“I try to help in many ways without the ball, with the ball, with movements, by communicating, by sacrificing. It is part of the game and as a player I want to be as complete as possible, so this is one of the things I have been trying to do.”
United held out to record a 1-0 win at home to Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, Ibrahimovic claiming he was not panicking as Jose Mourinho’s team sought to preserve their lead late on.
“I was confident we would not concede any goals,” he said.
“We looked good through the whole game. We had a lot of confidence and control. If we had conceded a goal at the end I would not know what to say – it would be the most disappointing moment of my career.”
United are back in Premier League action away to Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
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