Zlatan Ibrahimovic retires from Sweden duty: Five memorable goals for his country
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 23/06/16 10:45am
Sweden's Euro 2016 exit means the end of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's international career.
The 34-year-old announced ahead of his country's final group game against Belgium that he would no longer be available for selection after the tournament - and a 1-0 defeat in Nice brought an end to his spell in yellow and blue.
As the captain steps down from Sweden duty - with 62 goals from 116 caps - we look back at five important goals in his international career…
First Sweden goal
Ibrahimovic's first international goal came in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying home win against Azerbaijan in 2001 - and hinted at the flair and skill Sweden fans would come to see on a regular basis.
With Sweden already two goals to the good, the then-Ajax striker, on as a second-half sub, instantly controlled a rebound from a defender 40 yards out, flicked the ball over his opponent's head on the volley and then looped it over another Azerbaijan player to a team-mate, whose cross-shot was parried into Ibrahimovic's path inside the six-yard box.
The finish was simple, the build-up was anything but. And Ibrahimovic's jubilant celebrations - despite the game already being won - showed what the strike meant to him.
Improvisation against Italy
With Sweden pushing for a late equaliser in a group game at Euro 2004, a deep corner turned into a goalmouth scramble as the ball bounced around the Italy box - until, out of nowhere, Ibrahimovic produced a moment of magic to score a remarkable, audacious goal.
Dashing ahead of Italy 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon, Ibrahimovic, with his back to goal, leapt to meet a high bouncing ball with the outside of his right boot, lobbing Christian Vieiri on the line.
"I scored a lucky goal, but it was also an incredible goal, the most beautiful and important goal, especially at a European Championship," said Ibrahimovic, who moved to Juventus later that summer.
Scissor-kick stunner at Euro 2012
After losing their first two group games of Euro 2012, Sweden were already out of the competition by the time they played France. But Ibrahimovic gave the Swedish support plenty to cheer with a sublime scissor-kick goal to open the scoring.
Connecting perfectly on the volley from just inside the penalty area, Ibrahimovic's shot gave 'keeper Hugo Lloris no chance.
The night got even sweeter for Sweden fans, with Sebastian Larsson adding a late second to seal their first win over France in 43 years.
Goal of the year against England
Given his current standing, it seems remarkable to think that in 2012, Ibrahimovic's talents were viewed with scepticism by many in England as he had failed to deliver against English sides in European competition. In November 2012 his reputation on these shores changed.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker scored a hat-trick against England to put his country 3-2 up in Stockholm. However the best, most spectacular goal of the night was still to come.
In injury-time, Joe Hart rushed out of his area to head clear a loose ball, Ibrahimovic spun and, from fully 35 yards, unleashed a stunning overhead kick which looped over Hart and the scrambling Ryan Shawcross into the net.
Shawcross would later say Ibrahimovic's performance that night ended his international career, and his overhead won the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year - but the Swede took delight in silencing his critics. "That's the way it is with the English. If you score against them you're a good player, if you don't score against them you're not a good player," he said.
Ibrahimovic became Sweden's record goalscorer in September 2014 with a double in their 2-0 friendly win over Estonia - and the landmark strike came in typically flamboyant style.
After squeezing home an opener to draw level with Sven Rydell's 49-goal mark, Ibrahimovic darted to the near post and produced a back-heel flick to find the net with his second, historic goal.
"It feels unbelievable. It's something I've been waiting a long time and now I'm finally there," he said. "It means a lot to me and my whole family, and everyone around me."