Zlatan Ibrahimovic says that he is grateful just to be playing football, after he was forced to call time on his second stint at Manchester United due to a knee injury.
Ibrahimovic left United for the second time in March 2018 and now plays for LA Galaxy in MLS, where he has scored 11 goals in 14 games, maintaining the prolific strike rate that made him one of Europe’s most feared strikers in his heyday.
“Every time I put on my football shoes, I am enjoying the moment because after the bad injury I had there were not many hopes I could play again,” Ibrahimovic told BBC Sport.
The Swede scored league 17 goals during his first season at Old Trafford, but the campaign was cut short when he suffered damage to his knee ligaments during a Europa League quarter final match in 2017.
Ibrahimovic refused to accept a wage for the rest of the season while he recovered. He was released by United at the end of the season, but then rejoined later that summer. He denies that he went back for the money though.
“The situation was not about having a contract and earning money,” he said. “It was all the opposite. I said I don’t want a salary, you keep it.
“When I was ready, I said to myself ‘I am not there’. They had a Zlatan before. After, I was not ready to be that Zlatan.
“I was selected in many of the games but I told the coach: ‘Listen, I am not ready. I don’t want to disappoint you. The respect I have for my team-mates and the coach. Select someone else who can do the job better.’
“I stood up and did it, even if I am Zlatan.”