Zlatan Ibrahimovic has declared he will be going to the World Cup – although he refused to state whether he will play at the tournament.
It has been speculated for some weeks that the LA Galaxy star will come out of international retirement to play at the finals in Russia, where Sweden begin their campaign against South Korea in Nizhny Novgorod on June 18.
Ibrahimovic tweeted last week to say his chances of going to the tournament were “sky high”, with his three goals in three appearances since moving to MLS showing he has recovered well from the knee injury that blighted his second season at Manchester United.
The 36-year-old has now confirmed he will be heading to the finals in two months’ time, even if the exact details of his participation remain to be seen.
Speaking on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show, he said: “I’m going to the World Cup, yes. If I say more, they will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say.
“A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup.”
Ibrahimovic made an instant impact in the United States, scoring twice on his Galaxy debut to help them to a 4-3 derby win over Los Angeles FC, with his first goal a spectacular 40-yard effort.
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) April 18, 2018
The former Barcelona, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain forward thinks he has already made his mark on American football and culture.
“I had a vision before I came,” he said. “I know there are some earthquakes in Los Angeles, but this is me stepping in Los Angeles. I wanted to make a statement. Every movie has a good start.
“In Europe, football is huge, so people get crazy and they told me, ‘when you come to Los Angeles, you can walk on the street’. But it’s my own fault: if you play the way I do, I mean…
“My confidence is very high. I chose football. I’m sorry for the fans cheering for other sports, because it would be the same thing.
“People are very kind with me. Football is the biggest sport in the world. Imagine when you play football, and you’re on the top, how you feel.”
Ibrahimovic was also asked about the root of his nicknames and explained why he would prefer to be called his full title.
“My name in the Balkan language means ‘gold’, so I would prefer that, but I know people have difficulty pronouncing that,” he said. “So, somebody was like ‘Ibra’, and now it’s ‘The Lion’.
“I’m not a typical Swedish guy but I put Sweden on the map.”
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