'Happiness, love and energy' key for Ibrahimović
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimović says his goal is to "spread a lot of love and happiness through my football" as the 34-year-old prepares to head to UEFA EURO 2016 with Sweden.
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At 34, Sweden skipper Zlatan Ibrahimović will be well aware that his fourth EURO final tournament will probably be his last; the forward assessed the strength of his side's Group E opponents and explained what it means to bring his national team to France.
UEFA.com: Sweden will face the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Italy in Group E; how do you rate those sides?
Zlatan Ibrahimović: The group is exciting and very strong. I have played in Italy – they have plenty of good players and are a good team. Belgium have been the top-ranked team in the world and have a lot of good individual players. The only thing missing is achieving something in a big competition, which they are capable of. It will be exciting to play against Ireland as well. We played against them in two difficult qualification games [for the 2014 FIFA World Cup] so it will definitely be tough again.
UEFA.com: This will be your fourth EURO final tournament; what does this competition mean to you?
Ibrahimović: It will be really special to lead my country as captain in such a big competition, especially since it's being held in France where I've played my club football. I'll represent Sweden with pride and try to take the country as far as possible. It will be great to line up with Sweden at the finals, as it is every time we line together – with pride, honour and [thinking about] those close to me. I always try to do my job and I hope the younger players will do the same or even better. Once I'm on the pitch, I try to share happiness, love and energy, adrenaline and motivation. I demonstrate all this and want to reach out to others with it.
UEFA.com: Who inspired you to play the game when you were young?
Ibrahimović: Football is a passion for me. It is what I wanted to do and I want to make history doing it. Inspiration came from many places: friends, professional players at big clubs. When I saw something good I wanted to do the same or even better. When I realised that I could become a professional and do this full time – something that I love – and represent my country, there's nothing bigger than that. Especially when you get to be captain and score for your country. There's nothing greater.
UEFA.com: How have you changed as a person since you made your debut for Sweden?
Ibrahimović: I think I've got better each year. I've come on, achieved a lot and spread a lot of love and happiness through my football. That is what I want to do: be positive.