Zlatan Ibrahimovich has just revealed that he played the last 6 months of Serie A, and won helped his team AC Milan win the coveted Scudetto, with no ACL in his left knee.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be considered an arrogant bastard if it weren’t for a few things. One: he backs up his hilarious levels of confidence with remarkable success – even as he pushes well beyond the twilight of his career. Two: he has a sense of humour, and is (somewhat) self-aware, even as he is calling himself a lion in human clothing (or something). And three: he is a true leader, helping teams wherever he goes achieve trophies.
Speaking of which: Zlatan just claimed that “for the past six months I played without an ACL in my left knee.” He took to Instagram saying: “Swollen knee for six months. I was only able to train with the team 10 times in the last six months. Took more than 20 injections in six months. Emptied the knee once a week for six months. Painkillers every day for six months. Barely slept for six months because of the pain. Never suffered so much on and off the pitch.”
“I made something impossible to something possible.”Zlatan Ibrahimovic
“In my mind I had only one objective, to make my teammates and coach champions of Italy because I made them a promise. Today I have a new ACL and another trophy.”
A remarkable lesson in grit, if not a recommended example to follow for younger athletes hoping to have long and healthy careers (without arthritis). Zlatan, of course, would have had a world-class team of professionals helping him and advising him of the risks, and for now, at least, it seems to have paid off.
Where to next for Zlatan remains uncertain, but he has not made any definitive retirement claims yet. He will be out of action until at least 2023 while he recovers from his left knee surgery. The club has announced that the surgery went well: “The operation was a complete success and the prognosis is estimated between 7 and 8 months.”
Prior to making this revelation to fans, Zlatan told EUFA (in March): “The future is yet to be written. I don’t plan. Let’s see what happens. I don’t want to regret stopping football and then saying that I could continue to play football because then I’d regret it for the rest of my life, seeing that I could have continued. I want to play as long as I can. The reality is I’ll play until I see that someone is better than me, so I’m still playing.”
“I know one day it will stop, and I won’t have that adrenaline anymore. This is a problem for every football player because you have adrenaline when you play football. That adrenaline, you will never get in doing something else because we are programmed. Every day we do the same thing.”
Let’s hope we see a couple more years out of him. After all: he suffered this exact same ‘career-ending’ (and for many athletes it really is) injury on his right knee at Manchester United, and was back playing at a high level only a few years later (after a stint in the MLS).