Anthony Elanga

'We're happy he comes from Sweden'

Tuesday 22 March 2022 15:04

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says Anthony Elanga has a positive future ahead of him, after the pair joined up with Sweden’s national side.

Elanga, 19, hadn’t been born when Ibrahimovic, 40, made his debut for the Scandinavians back in 2001, but both players will be hoping to help Janne Andersson’s side qualify for the World Cup finals in Qatar later this year.

Sweden take on Czech Republic in Thursday’s one-legged play-off semi-final, with Poland lying in wait for the victors next Tuesday.

Although he is suspended for the meeting with the Czechs in Stockholm, Ibrahimovic appeared at a pre-match press conference with Elanga on Tuesday, where he waxed lyrical about the ability of the Manchester United forward, who is looking to make his first senior international appearance.

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“A great talent, we are proud and happy that he comes from Sweden,” Ibrahimovic said, when sat alongside Elanga. “That he can represent Sweden now makes it even bigger.

“He has all the future ahead of him, and if he continues just as he has done, it looks positive.

“It's just fighting, never being happy, striving for more. It depends on him, how far he can develop.”

Amazingly, Ibrahimovic briefly shared a dressing room with Elanga’s father Joseph in the year 2000, back when he was a teenager at Malmo.

And Zlatan revealed that a young Anthony used that fact to introduce himself during a chance meeting at Carrington a few years back.

“We had some lunch at the training facility in Manchester with the team,” the veteran forward recalled.

“Then this little guy comes up to me: "you know my dad". And I just help myself: "Elanga".

“And then it was just ... okay.”

Six times Elanga has scored for the seniors Video

Six times Elanga has scored for the seniors

Anthony has scored six goals for the seniors: once in 2020/21, twice in pre-season and three times this season...

Coach Andersson has suggested that Elanga won’t be thrown in from the start against Czech Republic and dampened talk of wanting to tie Anthony down to representing Sweden.

The teenager, who has scored four goals in 20 appearances for United’s first team, is fully committed to the Scandinavians anyway, having been raised in the country.

“I was born in Sweden, I spent 75 per cent of my life here and Sweden means a lot to me,” Elanga said.

“Everyone knows that I could have represented Cameroon and England but, for me, it was always Sweden.

“It is a dream to represent Sweden at this level.”