Zlatan Ibrahimovic has expressed his delight at making a successful return to action for Manchester United against Newcastle.
The Swede was expected to miss out until around January after suffering severe knee ligament damage back in April.
But he has made a miraculous early return to full fitness and produced a confident, crisp attacking display at No.10 after replacing Anthony Martial late in the second half.
And Zlatan, speaking to BT Sport after the game, noted that returning to action at Old Trafford was special.
“Feels special,” he said. “Different day same quality so I’m not worried. I’m not worried at all, I know what I do, I work hard and sacrifice a lot.”
“It’s my head that’s playing my knee just needs to follow so I’m not worried at all.”
And when asked whether he ever thought that his knee injury would signal the end of his time at the top, he provided a classic response.
“No, because lions don’t recover like humans.”
“It’s not easy especially in my case I was on top and I got injured and I couldn’t do anything more from one day to the next, it was not like I went on vacation or anything like that.
“It was not easy then I had a different summer compared to the other ones because I was out of contract. I was not worried about that and as soon as I signed you want to participate.
“Especially with my mentality I want to be there to give something and to help the team as best as possible but when you cannot do it you just have to keep your mind on one objective and that’s to come back. But not just coming back.
“It’s about coming back and making a statement.
“I’ve been training a lot and training hard and I’m here today so I’m just thankful I can play football again. That’s what I’m thinking about now. Now this is over we go further and we want to do more and more.”
When Zlatan said in a recent interview that it was the man wearing No.10 responsible for being the star going forward, he was paving the way for an emphatic return that many – including myself – doubted would ever happen against Newcastle.
And while the opponents he went up against were fatigued and well beaten, Ibrahimovic was a delight to watch in behind Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, fizzing the ball all over the pitch, creating chances, beating opponents, and almost scoring an overhead kick. Zlatan doesn’t to quiet, cautious returns. Mind you, Zlatan doesn’t do quiet or cautious full stop.
We were told that the No.10 would be the star, and for the latter stages against Newcastle he certainly was.