Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic dedicated his return to football on Saturday to those who had helped him through his toughest of times and insisted "lions don't recover like humans" after taking to the pitch earlier than anticipated.
The 36-year-old made his first appearance for the Red Devils in almost seven months during his side's 4-1 win over Newcastle United this weekend, with Jose Mourinho's outfit keeping league leaders Manchester City in sight, albeit from a distance, thanks to goals from Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.
The former Sweden international entered the theatre of dreams with 17 minutes remaining to rapturous applause, having completed his recovery from a brutal ACL injury during last season's Europa League clash with Anderlecht.
Following the full time whistle, Ibrahimovic took to social media to thank five people in particular who had made his return possible.
"Thanks to everybody that stod by my side for the last months", the attacker wrote on his official Twitter page.
Thanks to everybody that stod by my side for the last months.Thanks to my family,coach,teammates,Mino,DarioFort,Dahan,DrFu,DrVolker,Manutd and the most important my fanz.This was not a one man work without all of you I would not be playing fotball today Thank you and I ❤️ you pic.twitter.com/XpTCWMaEIn— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 18, 2017
"Thanks to my family, coach, teammates, Mino, Dario Fort, Dahan, Dr Fu, Dr Volker, Manchester utd and the most important my fanz. This was not a one man work without all of you I would not be playing fotball today so from bottom of my heart Thank you and I love you."
The five the Manchester United goalscorer singled out were 'Mino', Mino Raiola his long-term agent, Dario Fort, the front mans' personal physio, ‘Dahan’, Richard Dahan a Malmo-based physiotherapist and Dr Fu and Dr Volker, who operated on Ibrahimovic following his ACL tear.
It was expected that the Swede would not return in a United shirt until at least 2018, with the once-thought career-ending injury seemingly too damaging to expect a comeback sooner.
However, he soon disproved doctors' theories by getting back into action in less than seven months, and the Old Trafford favourite went full Zlatan in explaining his shortened recovery time.
"It feels special", Ibrahimovic told BT Sport following the Newcastle win.
"Different day, same quality, so I'm not worried at all because I know what I'm doing.
"I train hard, sacrificed a lot and it's my head that's playing - my knees just need to follow - so I'm not worried at all. Was I worried about returning? No. Lions don't recover like humans."
The Sweden international could now be set to enter the European fray for the first time since his long layoff on Wednesday evening when United travel to Basel in the Champions League.