His team messed up a bit against modest Georgians. She could even have lost her fragile advantage without a spectacular save from her substitute goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt in the 82nd minute. But whatever: veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 39, had a great evening. As soon as he arrived on the pitch, he sang the national anthem, which he had never done in his previous 116 caps. Somewhat lonely at the forefront of the Swedish attack with Alexander Isak, a youngster of 21, he was careful not to scold his teammates, as he is used to. Better: he did not have the selfishness to score – as he has already done 62 times in the jersey of joke – but he contributed brilliantly to the Swedish victory with an assist. “It was great, like the first game I played for the national team, enthuses the AC Milan striker. Too bad there was no audience! ”
The message got through: he’s a new Zlatan, the opposite of the megalomaniac diva we thought we knew, former PSG and Manchester star, luxury freelance writer in Los Angeles, who is back in Sweden after five years of retirement then banishment. The tone had been set upon his arrival. In training, he picked up the balls himself, the Swedish sports journalists were surprised, delighted to finally have people to eat. He did not claim his legendary number 10, nor the captaincy of the team, others stressed. “I’m not here to do my own show,” the ghost confirmed at the pre-match press conference, repeating that he wanted to “help and contribute.” Clever, he even wiped a tear when he mentioned his children who remained in Italy, and thanked Janne Andersson, the coach, for “the chance” he had given him.