Zlatan Ibrahimovic acknowledged his shoulder charge on Cesar Azpilicueta was stupid but insisted he would “100 per cent” do it again.
In the closing stages of Sweden’s 1-0 defeat to Spain this month, which meant they would have to go through the play-offs to reach the 2022 World Cup, Ibrahimovic steamed into Azpilicueta and sent him flying to the ground.
The veteran striker was shown a yellow card that has ruled him out of Sweden’s play-off semi-final in March.
But Ibrahimovic felt it was important for him to stand up for a team-mate and teach the Chelsea defender a lesson. It is not a decision he would change if he had his time again.
“The other day in the national team, I gave a tackle to [Azpilicueta]. I did it on purpose. I’m not ashamed to say it because he did something stupid to my player. Acting big to my player,” Ibrahimovic told The Guardian.
“It was a stupid thing but I would still do it to make him understand: ‘You don’t f****** 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.
“It’s not about missing the play-offs. It’s about making the guy understand you don’t take the p*** out of somebody laying [on the ground]. 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 team-mates who are 20 years old and very nice guys. I hope he understands now.
“I’m not afraid to say it to you. I did a stupid thing. [But] I will do it again. 100 per cent.
“That is what I say about being ‘perfect’. Being myself is perfect for me. I don’t need filters to ask them what kind of questions you will give me.”
Asked if Azpilicueta had said anything to him after the game, Ibrahimovic replied: “What can he say? 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.”