ISL- Indian Super League

Looking back at when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was linked to join ISL

Uttiyo SarkarUttiyo Sarkar

June 5 2023
Zlatan Ibrahimovic retires ISL Delhi Dynamos Odisha FC

Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from professional football on June 4.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 41. He spent his final season with Serie A heavyweights AC Milan, who gave him the platform to publicly announce his retirement at the San Siro after their final Serie A game of the 2022-23 season against Hellas Verona.

Ibrahimovic delivered an emotional speech to the San Siro crowd and even took a dig at some of the Verona fans who tried to jeer his farewell speech. Zlatan was only able to make four appearances for the Rossoneri in the 2022-23 season, scoring one goal. He started struggling with fitness after undergoing a difficult knee surgery last year, which he failed to properly recover from because of his age.

Exploring Zlatan’s links to the ISL

Zlatan is yet to publicly announce the next step in his career and whether he’s interested in becoming a manager. The forward’s career had many iconic moments, but one thing a lot of fans might not know is that there was a period when the Swedish legend was actually being linked to play in the Indian Super League (ISL).

Indeed, in 2016, there were genuine buzzes that Ibrahimovic might play in the ISL soon after he joined Manchester United as a free agent. Gianluca Zambrotta, who managed Delhi Dynamos (now known as Odisha FC) at the time, confirmed his desire to convince his ex-Juventus teammate to play in India in the future (back in 2016).

He had said in October 2016: “Given his fan following in India, I think Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) would want to come and end his career here. On my end, I will definitely try and convince him to play for Delhi Dynamos.” (via

But as Ibrahimovic started to soar at Old Trafford and take the Premier League by storm, it became somewhat evident that he wouldn’t be playing in the ISL anytime soon. A month after his initial comments, Zambrotta seemingly backtracked and claimed that his comments on Zlatan playing in the ISL was ‘a joke’.

He told Khel Now: “Well, It was a joke, I played with Zlatan, but I don’t think at this point it is possible to bring him to the ISL. But you can’t say that it will never happen. No, you can bring him in the future but for now it’s nothing but a joke.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s impressive career summed up

After leaving Manchester United in 2018, Zlatan decided to leave Europe itself and move to the MLS to play for La Galaxy. After excelling with them, he returned to Milan in 2019 and spent the final years of his career with them – even helping the Rossoneri lift the 2021-22 Serie A title.

Ibrahimovic retires after enjoying a decorated career in which he won league titles in Italy, Spain and France – as well as having scored over 550 goals across all levels.

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and join our community on Telegram.