Sweden coach: We won’t produce another Zlatan

Date published: Thursday 23rd June 2016 10:52

Sweden coach Erik Hamren was sad to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s illustrious international career end on a low point.

A 1-0 defeat by Belgium saw Sweden eliminated from Euro 2016 in the group stage.

Ibrahimovic had revealed the day before the match that this competition would be his last in a Sweden shirt.

He had declared: “To finish with a disappointment – never.” But Belgium created the better chances and deserved Radja Nainggolan’s 84th-minute winner.

Hamren said on uefa.com: “I’m very disappointed. We were talking before the game about the honour of representing Sweden and of being here, but I couldn’t have asked for much more from my players. I’m proud of them, even though we lost.

“I hoped Zlatan would have had a better finish. The same goes for (Andreas) Isaksson and (Kim) Kallstrom, who have performed well for a long time and are also ending their Sweden careers.”

Ibrahimovic ends his Sweden career with a record tally of 62 goals from 116 appearances.

Hamren admitted the 34-year-old is irreplaceable, saying: “Unearthing a new Zlatan? No, he is special, he is unique. I don’t think that in a small country like Sweden you will find another player like him.”

Attention will now turn to where Ibrahimovic will continue his club career after announcing he is leaving Paris St Germain, with Manchester United among the favourites to secure his signature.

Belgium and Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard praised the striker, saying: “Zlatan has done a lot of important things in his career and would have wanted to go further here.

“Our objective was to qualify, but unfortunately he is now eliminated. He will remain a great champion and still has a lot to offer at club level.”

Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Belgium needed only a point to secure their progress and go through as runners-up behind Italy in Group E.

Next up for Marc Wilmots’ side is a clash with surprise Group F winners Hungary in Toulouse on Sunday.

Hazard said: “It was a difficult match, complicated for our defenders. In the first half we had some possession and created chances. Nainggolan scored an important goal and from then on we had to manage the game.

“Hungary will be tough. We saw the last minutes of their game against Portugal. They give 200 per cent and have very good players. We need another good performance to qualify for the quarter-finals.”

Belgium, the highest-ranked team in the tournament, have not been totally convincing but Wilmots is happy with their form.

He said: “They were obliged to open up and if you do that against us you will be punished. Six points from nine is very good and since the defeat by Italy we have been very good.”

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