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How will Sweden cope without Zlatan Ibrahimović?

It is hard to overestimate the impact of Zlatan Ibrahimović's international retirement, but Sweden team reporter Sujay Dutt thinks the future looks bright enough without him.

Zlatan Ibrahimović after the defeat by Italy
Zlatan Ibrahimović after the defeat by Italy ©Getty Images

For all its past achievements, Swedish football has never known a time like the Zlatan Ibrahimović era. He is the player every Swedish child dreams of emulating.

Now he is retiring from international football, what will Swedish football be like?

It is more than 15 years since he made his debut, in a 0-0 draw against the Faroe Islands at the 1,500-capacity Tipshallen in Vaxjo. He has not made a habit of leaving many matches goalless since then.

Ibrahimović has hit the back of the net 62 times for his country and is far and away Sweden's all-time top scorer. Neither he nor any of his team-mates are yet to find the net at UEFA EURO 2016, however, even if the own goal against the Republic of Ireland was the fruits of Zlatan’s labour.

Watch Ibrahimović announce his retirement

The inimitable striker announced the end of his international career at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of his team's crucial Group E denouement against Belgium. "The last game at EURO will be my last game for Sweden," said the 34-year-old, who struck 11 times in qualifying including three in the play-offs.

It is impossible to overestimate how much his absence will be felt – it may take some time for the team to emerge from his shadow. But Sweden have enjoyed success prior to Zlatan – his fame is such that only the first name is needed – and they will have it again after he has gone.

Indeed the current EURO squad includes six members of the Sweden team that won the UEFA European Under-21 Championship last summer, while there is an even younger crop emerging who finished third at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013. These sort of results are previously unheard of for Sweden.

Highlights: Watch all of Zlatan Ibrahimović’s EURO goals

So expect them still to make a mark on the international stage in the years to come. It may just be a case of going back to basics rather than relying on the genius of one man.