Zlatan Ibrahimovic has opened up about the moment he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury for Manchester United against Anderlecht back in April.
With the score and tie level, Michael Carrick launched a long ball in the direction of Ibrahimovic, who leapt high but, under the pressure of an Anderlecht defender, landed awkwardly on his leg. The replays were impossible to watch.
He has defied murmurs suggesting that the injury would spell the end of his career and could return for Man United before the turn of the year.
Speaking in a recent interview, Zlatan discussed what went through his head in the immediate aftermath of his injury – the only long term one he has ever sustained throughout his career.
“I tried to take down a ball with my chest and timed the landing wrong,” he said. “I stuck my legs out and landed completely wrong. The leg went backwards and then it was pulled out.”
“I have never been hurt, but then I felt I swallowed my tongue. It was a strange feeling that I had never known before. I told myself it’s just a bang up.
“But when I got up, I felt that the leg was not in balance. In the locker room they started to check the leg but without an X-ray it was impossible to say exactly what the problem was.
“It turned out to be a cruciate ligament injury. Being injured, thoughts started spinning around my head.”
It was noted soon after United’s win over Anderlecht that Zlatan, despite damaging the core ligaments in his knee, was striding around the dressing room as normal.
This is by no means uncommon: the adrenalin and, at least from my experience, immediate denial of any serious impact precludes you from appreciating the sheer gravity of the situation at the time.
And for all that Zlatan has conquered throughout his career, this latest challenge would have been of a completely unique nature: a psychological and physical battle of attritional proportions.
Supporters will desperately hope to see that Zlatan, like he has done before, defies any sceptic lining up to slate him upon his return.