April 26, 2018 / 1:07 PM / 3 months ago

Zlatan rules out playing in World Cup, says Swedish FA

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be coming out of international retirement to represent the Nordic nation at the World Cup finals in Russia, the country’s FA has said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: Apr 21, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) kicks the ball during a game against Atlanta United FC at StubHub Center. Atlanta United FC defeated the Galaxy 2-0. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Speculation about the 36-year-old, who retired from the national team after the 2016 European Championships in France, has been red-hot in recent weeks following his stunning debut for MLS club Los Angeles Galaxy after leaving Manchester United.

The striker, who had been plagued by a knee injury for almost a year, scored a brilliant long-range volley to equalise against Los Angeles FC and then netted the winner with a header in stoppage time, prompting Swedish fans to hope for a comeback.

Ibra, who scored 62 goals in 116 games for Sweden, had hinted he might return, but that idea now seems to have been put on ice.

“I spoke to Zlatan on Tuesday, and he said that he hasn’t changed his mind about the national team - it’s a no,” Lasse Richt, chief of staff for the national team, said in a statement.

“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in that case, for the same reason as with previous national team gatherings, not under consideration for the World Cup squad that national team coach Janne Andersson will announce on May 15,” the statement went on.

Sweden open their World Cup Group F campaign against South Korea on June 18 before going on to meet Germany and Mexico.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Andrew Roche

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