Sweden manager Janne Andersson dismissed talk of former captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming out of retirement to re-join Sweden after the country qualified for the 2018 World Cup at the expense of Italy.
Sweden produced a gritty defensive effort to hold four-time world champions Italy to a goalless draw in Milan on Monday – securing a 1-0 aggregate victory.
It was a win that defied the odds and condemned Italy to miss the World Cup for the first time since 1958 but talk quickly turned to the possible return of Sweden’s all-time leading goalscorer Ibrahimovic, who walked away from international football following Euro 2016.
The 36-year-old Manchester United striker – who has not played since April due to a knee ligament injury – dominated the post-match news conference but Sweden head coach Andersson preferred to focus on the group of players who sealed the country’s passage to Russia next year.
“This is incredible! This player [Ibrahimovic] has just stopped to play with Sweden one year and a half ago and we are still here talking about him,” Andersson told reporters post-match.
“Gosh, we need to talk about the great players we have in this team I believe.”
On the match itself at San Siro, Andersson added: “What I wanted to say was that this was the demonstration that our collective acted like this during the whole length of the play-offs.
“We have many heroes tonight. I am a bit moved but obviously very happy with the result.”
“When Ibrahimovic was here with us we played a different style of football,” he continued. “But considering that he has decided to leave international football, he is a great champion but we had to adapt and found another style/game.”