Swedish soccer icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to Italian giants AC Milan as a senior advisor to the club’s ownership and management company.

Milan’s owners, US private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners, announced it had hired Ibrahimovic as an operating partner to support its sport, media, and entertainment portfolio, which includes the Serie A club.

He has also been appointed as a senior advisor to AC Milan Ownership and Senior Management, the parent company of the club, and will play an active role across the sporting and business operations, including player development and advancing the club’s global brand.

Ibrahimovic said: “My love for the Rossoneri will never die and the opportunity to be a part of its future in a meaningful way is something I could only have dreamt of.

“This is not a decision that I take lightly – it is very important and personal to me and my family. I've thought long and hard about the first steps in my post-playing career and I couldn't be more thrilled to start that journey as a member of RedBird and AC Milan.

“For me and my family, this is truly a homecoming with the cherished club where I ended my playing career and am now starting my next chapter.”

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By GlobalData

Ibrahimovic announced his retirement in June after a career that saw him represent several leading European clubs including AC Milan (Italy), Manchester United (England), Paris Saint Germain (France), Juventus (Italy), Inter Milan (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), and Los Angeles Galaxy (US).

This will be his third stint at Milan after helping them win the top-tier Serie A title in 2011, before returning to the club in early 2020 and winning the title again in 2022.

RedBird founder Gerry Cardinale said: “What makes a winner of Zlatan’s caliber is not just physical talent, but also high intellect and an entrepreneurial spirit.

“At RedBird, we have developed partnerships with a very select group of high-performing world-class athletes and artists who are able to thrive in the RedBird ecosystem”

RedBird has made several senior hires over the past year, including former F1 commercial executive Brandon Snow to a senior leadership role and former NBCUniversal chief executive Jeff Shell.

Last year, Jeff Zucker, the former chairman of US media giant WarnerMedia and global president of cable news station CNN, teamed up with RedBird to lead a $1-billion sports investment fund.

RedBird is led by former Goldman Sachs executive Cardinale and has been rapidly expanding its sports portfolio over the last few years, acquiring Milan for $1.28 billion last year and French club Toulouse in 2020.

It has also made investments into MLB baseball's New York Yankees, media company Skydance Media, the revived American football league XFL co-owned by actor Dwayne Johnson and has partnered with Epic Games and NIKE for a stake in NBA star LeBron James’ production company SpringHill.

The firm additionally holds a 10% share in John W Henry’s Fenway Sports Group – the parent company of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, English soccer’s Liverpool FC, and the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins – making it the company's third-largest shareholder.