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Idolisation of Ibrahimovic warranted Sweden captaincy – Hamren

The esteem in which a large portion of the Sweden squad held Zlatan Ibrahimovic encouraged Erik Hamren to make him captain of the national team.

Ibrahimovic retired from international football following Sweden’s failure to qualify for World Cup 2010, but Hamren enticed him back into the set-up and handed him the captain’s armband.

At the time it was a controversial decision, but the 58-year-old has no doubt it has been a successful one.

“I did that [made him captain] because I wanted him to take responsibility within the team – to be a real leader – and I must say that he’s done that fantastically,” Hamren told FIFA.com.

“Everything I wanted him to bring as captain he has brought. You have to remember that half of my squad have grown up idolising Zlatan and, for me as a coach, that’s brought a special challenge to make sure that relationship is beneficial.

“But he has been superb with those younger players. I couldn’t have asked for more from him.”

Hamren will leave his position with Sweden following Euro 2016, but he does not expect Ibrahimovic to follow him.

“Physically, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he can play on for many years and make a big contribution to the team,” he added.

“But the mental question, whether he’s motivated for another campaign after playing for so long, will be the big one for him to answer after the Euro. And it’s only Zlatan who will be able to answer that.”

Hakan Ericson, the coach of Sweden’s team for the Olympics, hinted the talismanic striker – yet to agree terms with a new club ahead of his departure from Paris Saint-Germain – could participate in Rio.

“I think there will be a chance whatever club he ends up at. If he wants to, I think it will be possible,” he told Aftonbladet.

“He is one of few in the world that can dictate the conditions for his club and say that he wants to play in the Olympics, as Neymar has done and as [Lionel] Messi did [with Barcelona] for the Games in Beijing.”

Wed 25 May, 2016
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