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UkraineUkraine
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 By Lee Roden

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Denmark: 'I sent their entire country into retirement'

With his status at Euro 2016 on the line, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in Denmark to help Sweden qualify for next year's tournament.

The Euros could be the 34-year-old's final appearance in a major international event, but Ibrahimovic had a clear message for Danish fans who thought he would retire with a defeat in Tuesday's playoff.

"There was the thought that this would send me into retirement. I sent their entire country into retirement," he told Sweden's Kanal 5.

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Ibrahimovic said he "couldn't describe" how it felt to qualify, before going on to fire barbed words towards his critics.

"All of the chat before, and we took ourselves to the playoffs," he said. "Many were disappointed with that, but we still had a chance.

"We got Denmark, everything was against us. We hadn't won [against them], I hadn't scored a goal, but we stayed patient.

"We knew what we wanted: the people who wanted to go to the European Championships most would get there, and that was us."

The Paris Saint-Germain striker hinted that next summer's tournament would probably be his last on the international stage.

"It's destiny that I get the chance to finish at the European Championships," he said. "A lot of people complain that I'm old and weak, but it doesn't look like that."

Ibrahimovic's goals really did send two Danish figures into retirement as coach Morten Olsen resigned after 15 years and defender Lars Jacobsen said he would step away after 80 caps.

Striker Marcus Berg credited Ibrahimovic with seeing his team through.

"How much do we owe to Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Of course, a lot, but we are a team and everyone works really hard," Berg said. "Of course it's a blessing that we can have him in front to score these important goals. He's really important but everyone did a massive job today."

Sweden coach Erik Hamren also had strong words for his team's critics in his postmatch news conference

"Obviously we're hugely happy, considering we had been called Sweden's worst ever team," he noted ironically. "So considering that, it's quite good to get to the European Championships.

"We have done a fantastic job. Considering what we've been called, what the team has been called, what the guys have been called, I'm very happy. But it's not revenge."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic delivered a stunning free kick to help put Sweden in Euro 2016.

The Sweden boss admitted that his side needed a slice of luck in Copenhagen but insisted his team were good over both legs.

"Thinking about that corner in the beginning, the ball was bouncing around everywhere in the penalty box and it could have been 1-0 to Denmark and a different game. So we had a bit of luck there, but after that we were really good. We imposed our own game," he said.

"I think we played very well over the two games. I'm very satisfied, and very, very happy for the players."

Right-back Mikael Lustig was even more direct in his words for Sweden's critics.

"We got a lot of [crap] from the media, but today we showed what kind of team we are," Lustig said. "There'll be no changing of the guard just yet."

"Revenge? Absolutely. There has been a lot of talk of a change in generation, but maybe we need a change of generation in the media.

"Dear me, how great. We've been quite underrated in the media, we showed everyone that we're a really good team. The European Championships will be brilliant."

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