Zlatan Ibrahimovic has admitted his brutal shoulder charge on Cesar Azpilicueta in a World Cup qualifier last week was a deliberate act and that he would do it all over again.
The 40-year-old AC Milan striker sent the Chelsea captain flying after slamming his shoulder into the back of Azpilicueta in the closing stages of Sweden’s 1-0 defeat against Spain in the World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
As a corner was swung into the box, Ibrahimovic smashed Spain’s right back, flooring him on the spot.
Speaking to The Guardian, Ibrahimovic explained the brutal shoulder charge was entirely deliberate to put the Chelsea defender in his place for ‘acting big’ against a younger Sweden player earlier in the game.
‘The other day in the national team, I gave a tackle to [Cesar Azpilicueta]. I did it on purpose,’ he said.
‘I’m not ashamed to say it because he did something stupid to my player. Acting big to my player.
‘It was a stupid thing but I would still do it to make him understand: “You don’t f***ing do that. You don’t have balls to do it against me. But I will show you what happens if you do it to me.” That’s why I did it.’
Asked whether Azpilicueta approached him after the final whistle, he replied: ‘He will not say it to me but he will say it to my player – who will do nothing because he’s too nice.
‘It was not a good thing by me, but I would still do it. That’s me. I’m not ashamed to say it.’
Ibrahimovic avoided a red card, but will miss Sweden’s play-off semi-final in March after being booked off camera.
The former Manchester United striker, however, insisted the suspension did not bother him.
‘It’s not about missing the play-offs. It’s about making the guy understand you don’t take the p**s out of somebody laying [on the ground],’ he continued.
‘You don’t attack a dog that doesn’t talk. Attack the one able to do something. It’s too easy to pick on my teammates who are 20 years old and very nice guys. I hope he understands now.’