The LA Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he only needs "20 minutes" to make an impact after returning from injuries, something he proved a year ago when he scored two goals, including the game winner in a 4-3 victory in his MLS debut against LAFC.
Ibrahimovic, 37, is racing to be fit for his team's match against the Portland Timbers (live on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday) after picking up an Achilles injury in the Galaxy's season-opening 2-1 win against the Chicago Fire, in which he scored the go-ahead goal.
When asked about his ability to return from setbacks, Ibrahimovic referenced his unforgettable first match in MLS on March 31, 2018, that came almost a year after he needed knee ligament surgery after suffering an injury while playing for Manchester United against Anderlecht in April 2017.
"I mean, I was out one-and-a-half years and I came here 20 minutes against your favorite team and showed them something they have never seen before," Ibrahimovic told reporters after training on Friday. "So, I need 20 minutes, not more."
While the former Barcelona and Milan striker's math is a little off -- he'd been out less than a year and had briefly returned to action for United from November 2017 until Boxing Day -- his point remains: Ibrahimovic doesn't need long to make an impression.
Ibrahimovic only returned to training on Tuesday and said he didn't know if he'd be ready to play against the Timbers, but did tell reporters what happened to him against the Fire and how he is feeling now.
"I felt tightness [in my Achilles] and it was growing and it was painful, but I kept playing because I had too much adrenaline and because I knew I would score, so I didn't want to step out," Ibrahimovic said. "I wanted to win the first game, so I stayed, I stayed, but I had a lot of pain.
"But I feel good and it's all about how long you can keep it and that I don't know. That you have to find out when you play. So if I feel good enough, I'm playing, if I don't feel good enough I won't."
When asked about the highs and lows of his first season in MLS, Ibrahimovic didn't hesitate: the positive was getting back out on the field after an injury, the negative was missing out on the playoffs on the final weekend of the season when the Galaxy lost a "win-and-get-in" match against the Houston Dynamo.
"I was happy to play football and to go out and do what I always do, that was the best part," Ibrahimovic said. "The worst part was the serious stuff, like we didn't make it to the playoffs and didn't win.
"We were fighting for the fifth or sixth place. I don't fight for those places, I fight for number one."