Belgium retires Ibrahimovic from international football

Belgium defeated Sweden 1-0 on Wednesday evening in Nice to officially end Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s illustrious international career.

Ibrahimovic, 34, his country’s record goalscorer, announced on Tuesday that he will quit the national after the European Championship in France.

The 6ft 5in striker made his international debut as a 19-year-old against the Faroe Islands and went on to score in his first competitive match – a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup against Azerbaijan.

He announced himself on the international stage with a spectacular back-heeled goal in the group stage of Euro 2004 against Italy, but missed a penalty as Sweden were eliminated in a quarter-final shootout.

But the forward who made 117 caps for the European nation in 15 years, never foresaw this happening barely a day after his pronouncements.

“I will not participate in the Olympics because my last game will be the last game Sweden does in this Euro,” the Manchester United bound striker said.

“So let’s hope it goes as long as possible.”

Ibrahimovic had thought he would last a little longer in the party.

Sweden had drawn their first game against Republic of Ireland and slipped by a lone goal to Italy in the second.

Anything other than victory for Erik Hamren’s side spelt doom for Ibrahimovic who was aiming to add to his 62 international goals.

But a superb strike from fellow Barclays Premier League target, Radja Nainggolan, earned Belgium a last-16 berth – thus giving the charismatic striker, an unspectacular send off from international football.

The moment the Roma midfielder scored with just eight minutes left, the former Barcelona man knew his time was up.

“I want to take this moment and thank all the supporters because they made it possible for me to achieve what I have achieved. Without them it would not have been possible.

“So wherever I go, wherever I come, I’ll always bring the Swedish flag with me and stand with it. So for me disappointment doesn’t exist, only proudness. I’m very thankful. So thank you.”

The 2016 Euros is definitely an abysmal one for Ibrahimovic who failed to register a single goal in over 270 minutes and lost to Cristiano Ronaldo in the race to become the first player to score in four successive tournaments.

He was once again unable to inspire the Swedes to success in another major event.

The nomadic forward who has played in France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands and native Sweden, is eyeing England as his possible destination after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

Apart from appearing for the national team, Ibrahimovic also represented Sweden at the U17 and U20 levels.