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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Zlatan Says No To Sweden

Zlatan Ibramihovic is arguably one of the best strikers in Europe. He had two interesting campaigns with Juventus. In the first, he scored 16 goals and seemed to take the Serie A by surprise. The second season for the bianconeri was not as fruitful on a personal level. He was criticized by coach Fabio Capello, and his goal-scoring tally was significantly lower.

When Juventus was demoted to the Serie B, Zlatan refused to take the team bus for a pre-season friendly. That marked his end with Juventus, and he was sold to Inter Milan in the next week. He has returned to his old form with an Inter team that has not lost a game since last Spring. But for the National team of Sweden, Zlatan refuses to play.

Apparently, he missed a curfew after a Euro qualifying game with Latvia last year. Coach Lars Lagerbeck suspended him for the next game and sent him packing. Zlatan's response was to refuse the honor to represent his country versus Spain and Iceland, respectively. Despite this, Coach Lagerbeck held out an olive branch. Which Zlatan, a fiery sort, quickly broke. He refused to play in the team any further. Whether this means with Lagerbeck as coach remains to be seen. For Sweden's next friendly with Egypt, Lagerbeck did not select Zlatan. But he again iterated that the door was not completely slammed shut.

“I am not here to convince anyone if he isn’t 100 per cent sure that he would be happy to play,” However, the door is still open to him."

When young players refuse the call to their country, it creates dangerous consequences. Sweden may not have 100 other strikers as talented as "Ibra"; however, who would you rather have? Someone with pride and hunger to wear his country's shirt, or a talented, yet selfish player such as Zlatan? Coach Lagerbeck has made the proper choice.

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