SOLNA, Sweden, March 25, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 41-year-old Swedish striker, on Friday became the second oldest player to feature in a European championship qualifier but his landmark night ended in a sobering 3-0 defeat to Belgium.
Ibrahimovic came on as a 73rd-minute substitute in the Euro 2024 group game in Solna.
The Swedish star, born on October 3, 1981, was initially hailed as the oldest man to take part in a European qualifier.
However, it then emerged that Gibraltar striker Lee Casciaro, born on September 29, 1981, had taken the record in his team's match on Friday against Greece.
At 41 years, five months and 21 days, Ibrahimovic is still ahead of former Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff, who played against Sweden on May 29, 1983, at 41 years, three months and one day.
AC Milan's Ibrahimovic last weekend became the oldest player to score a goal in Serie A history.
Earlier this week, he insisted he wants to play at the Euro finals in Germany next year when he will be 42 and the oldest player to ever participate in the tournament.
However, he faces a tough battle to satisfy that ambition Romelu Lukaku bagged a hat-trick to give new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco a winning start after succeeding Roberto Martinez.
"Those are three very important points. Taking three points and scoring three goals in Sweden is never easy for any team," said Tedesco.
"Winning is always the best thing to unite a group. As for my selection choices -- the boys have shown that I wasn't wrong."
Inter Milan striker Lukaku opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, glancing Dodi Lukebakio's cross into the far corner.
Lukebakio also created Lukaku's second of the night.
Substitute Johan Bakayoko turned provider for Lukaku's third with seven minutes remaining as Belgium recorded a 15th successive European qualifying win.
"There were three 19-year-olds out there today. Others in their early 20s," said Bakayoko, himself just 19.
"Stars were talking and laughing with everyone. A new generation is coming."