Former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he will be ‘going to the World Cup’ this summer after months of speculation that he could come out of international retirement following Sweden’s qualification for the tournament.
For the time being, though, Ibrahimovic has offered no details as to what context that will be in, suggesting he may be toying with the media, again, and could simply be there as a spectator.
“I’m going to the World Cup, yes,” he said with a mischievous look in his eyes.
“I’ll just say I’m going to the World Cup. If I say more, people will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say now. A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup.”
“I’m not the typical Swedish guy, but I put Sweden on the map,” he had jokingly said earlier.
Ibrahimovic only went to two World Cups (2002, 2006) during a 15 year international career after Sweden failed to qualify for the tournament in both 2010 and 2014.
MLS fixtures will continue during the World Cup, so if Ibrahimovic is planning on playing he would have to miss a handful of club games. Intriguingly, however, there is a three-week pause in LA Galaxy’s schedule between June 9 and June 30 that would allow Ibrahimovic to travel to Russia and watch all three of Sweden’s group games as a fan before returning to America
The veteran, who opted to begin a new chapter of his career last month, has taken Major League Soccer and North America by storm so far after scoring three goals in his first three appearances for his new club.
He was recently interviewed in the ESPN SportsCenter studio, explaining why he left $97m on the table to join Galaxy instead of heading to China, and his appearance as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel’s popular late night ABC talk show came just this week.
Ibrahimovic admitted on the show that he has had an eye on LA for ‘a couple of years’, with rumours of a move stateside first taking off before he joined Manchester United in 2016.
“People [in LA] have been very kind to me,” he explained.
“In Europe, football is big, it’s huge, so wherever I went people went crazy. People told me, ‘Don’t worry, when you come to LA, you can walk on the streets’, but since day one it has been busy everywhere!
“It is my own fault, because if you play the way I do…” he added with a smile.
Ibrahimovic scored a sensational brace on his debut to help Galaxy compete a stunning 4-3 comeback in a city derby against Los Angeles FC, and scored the only goal of last weekend’s 1-0 win over Chicago Fire in what was his first start for the club.