'I feel like Nikola Jokic!' – Ibrahimovic adamant he can still play a big part for Milan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic compared himself to basketball star Nikola Jokic after returning from a nine-month injury lay-off in Milan's victory over Atalanta.
The evergreen striker came on in the second half of Sunday's 2-0 win at San Siro, having previously been an unused substitute in three matches this month.
He made history by overtaking Alessandro Costacurta (41y and 25d) as Milan's oldest Serie A player in the three-points-per-win era (since 1993-94) at 41 years and 146 days.
While the Sweden international may turn 42 later this year, he still feels he has a big part to play, just like two-time NBA MVP Jokic for the Denver Nuggets.
"I want to help the team in every way by doing what I have to do to be there on the field," he told Sky Sport. "I want to be there when the coach and the team need me.
"It's obvious things change between the age of 30 and 41, but I feel like Jokic in the NBA."
Ibrahimovic's previous appearance for Milan came in a 3-0 win over Sassuolo on May 25 last year, with the former Barcelona striker injuring his knee and undergoing surgery.
Given his age at the time of the operation and the length of the lay-off, many expected Ibrahimovic to call time on his legendary career.
"I've lived this year with great suffering," he said when asked what it means to be back playing again at the highest level. "I've been out for a year.
"I didn't feel well and I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I went on with suffering to help the team but in reality I wasn't well.
"Today I can say that I'm fine and that I can give what I can to the team. Then obviously the more you play, the more you train and the more you improve."
Juan Musso's own goal – after Theo Hernandez's volley hit the post and went in off the goalkeeper's back – and Junior Messias' late strike earned Milan a fourth win in a row.
That includes three Serie A wins on the spin without conceding for the first time in a year, helping to lift the Rossoneri level on points with second-place rivals Inter.
It has been a largely disappointing campaign on the whole for Milan as they are 18 points adrift of leaders Napoli, something Ibrahimovic suggested may be down to his absence.
"I've done everything I can to recover, but in the last few weeks I've seen the team do well," he said. "We must continue doing more if we are to do well.
"I feel important and have a great responsibility here. I started an adventure with this team and helped to bring it where we are today.
"When I'm not available I suffer, and perhaps the teams lacks a bit of my pressure as well as a result."