Zlatan Ibrahimovic has admitted that he is starting to require a longer recovery time between games in order to cope with playing at the highest level at the age of 39. However, his strong mindset means he has no intention of quitting the game just yet.
Ibrahimovic is enjoying a remarkable season with Milan, despite a recent injury setback. His side currently top Serie A and he tops the league's scoring charts with 10 goals in six games.
Although his goalscoring ability has shown no sign of slowing down, the Swedish striker admits his body does feel the effects of playing at the top level.
"I would like to have the brain of Zlatan in a 25-year-old body," Ibrahimovic told Uefa.com. "I get tired faster now, compared to when I was younger. I’m sleeping a lot because I need to recover more.
"Let’s say after the games, before it probably took me one day to recover and to feel good and really fresh. Now I need between two and three days, which is normal for the age that I am.
"And as long as I can perform, I will play at a high level. The day I stop performing, I will not play anymore because I need to feel alive. I need to feel I give something back."
Ibrahimovic signed a new one-year deal with Milan in the summer, keeping him at the club until June 2021 - less than four months from his 40th birthday. The Milan forward cited his mentality as the secret to his longevity in the game.
"I’m 39 and with what I have done, I have no obligation to work anymore, but I still have this passion for what I’m doing," the Milan striker explained.
"I’m never satisfied, and I always want more. I don’t see a lot of players who are my age who were, or are, performing like I am doing. The moment a player goes above 30 is [meant to be] when they start to go down and they quit. Above 30 is when I started to become even better.
"I hear athletes from [the] US say that they spent more than one million [dollars] to keep their body in shape. I am 39. I am in shape. I perform at the highest level. I spend zero to stay in shape. The secret is not how much you spend, the secret is in your head."