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Ibra makes Sweden return

Striker returns after hiatus from international football

Last Updated: 16/07/10 2:42pm

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Ibrahimovic: Sweden return

Ibrahimovic: Sweden return

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return to international football as captain of the Sweden squad.

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The Barcelona striker disappeared from the national circuit following his country's failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

He admits, though, that he has missed playing at international level, and is scheduled to make a prompt return under new coach Erik Hamren.

"What I have always said is that I am proud to play for the national team," he said.

"You can count on me to be there at the national team's next game."

Hammer blow

Ibrahimovic admits that being a part of the set-up that crashed out in the qualification process in October 2009 hit him hard as a player.

"After the last game (against Denmark), when we didn't get into the World Cup, I felt my motivation disappear," he said.

"So I decided to give up. I had no desire to play. I'm a competitor, I play to win. After your career, you want to be remembered as someone who won," he said.

The 28-year-old has now set his sights on starting Sweden's next fixture, which is a home friendly against Scotland on 14th August.

"If I'm chosen for the next game, I'll be there," he said.

"I am proud (to be captain), it feels fantastic and I'll do my best to be the leader that Erik wants me to be."

Hamren, who has awarded midfielder Anders Svensson shared captaincy duties, said: "A motivated Zlatan is worth his weight in gold for the Swedish national team."

At club level, the arrival of David Villa at Barcelona has sparked rumours that Ibrahimovic, who spent much of last season on the bench, may be on the way out.

He has rubbished such suggestions, though, saying: "I was a Barcelona player when I left (at the end of the season) and I'll be a Barcelona player when I return."

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