Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed how Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped Manchester United lift the Europa League trophy without even playing.
The former AC Milan and Barcelona striker has become a talismanic figure since joining on a free transfer from Paris St-Germain last summer and was the club's top scorer before his season was prematurely ended with a knee injury picked up in the closing stages of the Europa League semi-final win over Celta Vigo. That injury kept him on the sidelines in Stockholm on Wednesday night as goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured the win and an all-important spot in next season's Champions League.
But despite being restricted to a watching brief manager Mourinho revealed the 35-year-old had a big impact, particularly on the Friends Arena ball boys.
"I think it's so unfair what happened to him," he said about Ibrahimovic missing the match in his native Sweden. "Sometimes football is unfair, sometimes life is unfair, I think it's so unfair.
"This night would be an amazing night if he was on the pitch, in his hometown, in the stadium where his statue will be, his first club when he left Sweden, his actual club in Manchester United, a season where he made an amazing impact, I'm really, really, really sorry Zlatan has not played this final.
"But he played. He played outside with crutches with the other guys, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, they were playing behind the bench shouting, they were doing everything.
"And on top of it, Zlatan in Swedish told the ball boys in the second-half to take it easy, so even outside he was playing for us. So I am so pleased he finally gets a European trophy." Mourinho said as quoted on the Independent