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Sweden gives emotional tribute to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in testimonial

Sweden gives emotional tribute to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in testimonial
Sweden gives emotional tribute to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in testimonial

Former Manchester United and Sweden international Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a hero’s send off at the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Saturday night.

The game ended in a 0-3 loss for the home side as Serbia ran out victors in the 42 year old’s testimonial but the result wasn’t really the point.

It was an outpouring of emotion and expression of gratitude for probably the Nordic nation’s greatest ever player.

The flamboyant character played 866 matches for ten clubs and finding the back of the net 511 times.

He also represented his nation 122 times, scoring 62 times including a spectacular 30 year bicycle kick against England in 2012 that will surely live forever in football history.

Zlatan was only at United for a season and a bit, playing 53 times and scoring 29 goals, but left the club having won the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, and won the hearts of United fans who were thrilled by one of his generation’s greatest the Old Trafford pitch with the arrogance of Eric Cantona.

The Athletic reported that “throughout, the on-field action is almost an irrelevance. The first half’s loudest cheer comes when Ibrahimovic is shown on the big screen for the first time. Sitting outside an executive box, dressed in a grey three-piece suit and a black necktie, he makes a heart signal towards the camera.”

After the game, Zlatan took to the field and addressed the fans with the statement, ““I see that you have missed me!”

An almost-capacity crowd of 46,956 stayed behind to pay tribute and were described as “captivated” by the occasion.

“This was and is all about Zlatan,” Daniel Nannskog, the former Sweden player-turned-pundit, says. “He always makes sure it is.”

The most spectacular demonstration of the fans’ love was given when the full-time whistle blew and the Swedish Ultras unveiled a Tifo, depicting Ibrahimovic’s ludicrous 30-yard bicycle kick against England in 2012, and the message, “Tack for zhowen!” — “Thanks for the show!”

In an era where players seem to be less about being an individual and more about being cogs in a greater machine, the need to appreciate what creative geniuses like Zlatan did is even more imperative, as they are a dying breed in the modern era.



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