EURO 2016

Zlatan declares himself a legend ahead of Ireland clash

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a training session at the Stade de France
Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a training session at the Stade de France

Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists his legend will live on wherever he decides to play his football after the Euro 2016 finals.

The 34-year-old will lead Sweden into battle with Ireland at the Stade de France on Monday evening with his future undecided following his decision to leave Paris St Germain.

However, asked why he intends to extend his career despite all his achievements, the self-proclaimed legend said: "Because the legend can still deliver."

Ibrahimovic is Sweden's talisman - indeed, he scored 11 goals during qualification, three of them in the play-off double-header victory over Denmark - and could become the first man to find the back of the net at four successive Euro finals tournaments.

His response when it was suggested he had the opportunity to dominate a major tournament for the first time was unequivocal.

He said: "I have been dominating wherever I go, I have no issue about that. I feel very confident. I go into this tournament with a strong season behind me. I feel strong and I come here to enjoy.

"I come to France, where I have been living for the last four years now, I know the country very well. I'm 100 per cent sure they know me better than I know them, so wherever I go, I enjoy it and I have been dominating wherever I go, no worries.

"I feel like I am getting better and better every years that passes. It's all about developing and learning things and not being satisfied. You have got to have the hunger to become a better player.

"That's when I feel I have accomplished something, when I learn new things. I demand of myself that I will work hard on the pitch and practise and won;t just sit down and do nothing.

"If you want it, you are able to do it. I know what I want, I know I'm going to do it."

Ibrahimovic's name has received regular mentions at Ireland press conferences throughout their three weeks of preparation with assistant manager Roy Keane even agreeing that he could be the type of character former Manchester United team-mate Eric Cantona was during his spell at Old Trafford.

The much-travelled Swede said: "I take it as a compliment because if a player like Roy Keane speaks, he has been in the game, knows what he is talking about, so I just take it as a compliment.

"For me Manchester, there's nothing to say. I feel happy for the moment. What the future will be, you will know soon and we'll see what happens.

"I enjoy football and wherever I will go, I will be the same person and I will still enjoy it."

Both Sweden and the Republic will see Monday's game as perhaps the most winnable of their Group E fixtures with Belgium and Italy their other rivals, and striker Marcus Berg has stoked the fires by suggesting the Irish defence may not have the pace to keep his side at bay.

However, Ibrahimovic was uncharacteristically modest when the claim was put to him.

He replied with the merest flicker of a smile: "I'm also slow, so it doesn't matter. They can still be good even if they are slow."