Really special to lead my country in Euro 2016: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at the forefront of Sweden's qualification for Euro 2016, netting 11 goals in the process.

By: AP | Paris | Published:June 11, 2016 7:47 pm
euro 2016, euro, euro 2016 fixtures, euro 2016 schedule, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ibrahimovic goals, Ibrahimovic Sweden, Sweden Football, Sweden news, Ibra, Ibrahimovic news, football news, football Zlatan can be first player to score in four Euro finals tournament. (Source: Reuters)

Sweden’s 34-year-old talisman will lead out his team Monday against Ireland at Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris after four title-winning seasons for PSG.

“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,” Ibrahimovic said in an interview published on UEFA’s website.

Euro 2016 now gets Ibrahimovic’s full focus after fevered speculation – largely fueled by himself, it must be said – about which club he will join next.

Manchester United, and a reunion with his former Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, is his expected landing spot.

Ibrahimovic heightened speculation that something was afoot when he said he would announce “bombshell” news in Paris last week. Instead, he had media flocking to a launch event for his new line of clothing.

Ibrahimovic was at the forefront of Sweden’s qualification for Euro 2016, netting 11 goals in the process.

As well as looking to help his team advance in the competition, Ibrahimovic is aiming for two scoring records.

Both Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo are among seven players who have scored in three Euro finals tournaments.
The Swede can be first to make it four on Monday.

The two superstars each have six career Euro tournament goals. Michel Platini’s mark of nine – all scored when host France won in 1984 – is clearly in range.

Sweden has a historical hold over Ireland, not having lost any of the six previous competitive encounters between the sides.

Still, their games in 2014 World Cup qualifying were their first competitive matches in more than 40 years.

As well as looking to make amends for a hugely disappointing appearance at Euro 2012 when it lost all three group games, Ireland will be looking to put a recent painful memory behind it.

Ireland returns to Stade de France for the first time since France’s Thierry Henry notoriously handled the ball in the build-up to the winning goal in a playoff to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Though veteran forward Robbie Keane and defender John O’Shea are among Ireland’s holdovers from that game, this is a very different Ireland era under a coaching team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.

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