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Zlatan Ibrahimovic Says He Would Still Copy His Challenge On Cesar Azpilicueta Despite Ban

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic Says He Would Still Copy His Challenge On Cesar Azpilicueta Despite Ban

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has spoken out following his challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta during World Cup qualifying and revealed he would do it again if he thought necessary.

Last week Sweden and Zlatan missed out on automatic qualification to next winter's World Cup, when they lost to Spain in their final group match.

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The 40-year-old, who has not played in an international tournament since Euro 2016, and his teammates could still qualify via the play-offs but Ibra won't be available in the first leg.

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During the Spain game, the AC Milan striker launched himself at Azpilicueta whilst they were awaiting a Spain corner, which led to a yellow card for Zlatan, his second of the qualifying campaign, earning him a one match ban.

Despite criticism from some over the challenge, the controversial forward has happily admitted he did it on purpose and that he'd do it again.

"The other day in the national team, I gave a tackle to [Spain’s Azpilicueta]. I did it on purpose," he told the Guardian, after graciously admitting he isn't perfect.

"I’m not ashamed to say it because he did something stupid to my player. Acting big to my player.

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"It was a stupid thing but I would still do it to make him understand: ‘You don’t f****ng do that. You don’t have balls to do it against me. But I will show you what happens if you do it to me.’

"That’s why I did it.”

Asked if the Chelsea defender had said anything to him after the incident, the former Manchester United striker said, "What can he say?

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"He will not say it to me but he will say it to my player – who will do nothing because he’s too nice. It was not a good thing by me, but I would still do it. That’s me. I’m not ashamed to say it."

"...I did a stupid thing. [But] I will do it again. 100%."

Ibra retired from international football following the Euros in France five years ago but made himself available after the team qualified for the World Cup in 2018.

He was playing for LA Galaxy at the time and the manager didn't consider calling him up, but his form for Milan would have earned him a place at the Euros last summer if it wasn't for an injury.

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Zlatan clapping the fans after Sweden's Euro 2016 exit, he retired after the tournament before his recent comeback. Image: PA Images
Zlatan clapping the fans after Sweden's Euro 2016 exit, he retired after the tournament before his recent comeback. Image: PA Images

This season, despite his age, the former Inter forward continues to impress at the San Siro, now for the Rossoneri, with five goals in seven Serie A appearances.

The most recent two came at the weekend as Milan lost 4-3 to Fiorentina, their first loss of the season, and he also provided an assist.

He doesn't sound like he's planning on stopping any time soon, saying in the interview, "I will keep doing it as long as I can.

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"I don’t want to have that regret if I stop and then, in a couple of years, I’m sitting with you and saying: ‘I could have continued because I was feeling good.’

"It’s better to be totally finished and say: ‘I cannot do it any more.’ But I can still do it and I am doing it.”

Sweden will find out who they face in their play-off on November 26th, where they are seeded in the draw, and most football fans will hope Zlatan gets one final international tournament.

Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports/PA

Topics: Sweden, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Football World Cup, AC Milan, Chelsea, Serie A, Premier League

Ryan Sidle
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