MILAN — In his own, inimitable way, AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimović is encouraging people in an online campaign to follow the rules in the battle against the coronavirus.
The 39-year-old Ibrahimović contracted the virus last month but is showing no ill effects, having scored four goals in the three matches since his return.
"The virus has challenged me and I won. But you are not Zlatan, do not challenge the virus," Ibrahimović says in the video on his Facebook page with 26 million followers. "Use your head, respect the rules. Social distance and masks, always. We will win."
The video is part of a campaign by the region of Lombardy, which has Milan as its capital. It was also posted on the region's website and social media accounts.
"The idea of involving Ibra came to me the night of the derby (against Inter Milan)," said Attilio Fontana, the governor of Lombardy. "Zlatan was back on the pitch after recovering and at that point I thought that he could have helped us launch an important message.
"He accepted the proposal immediately, showing great sensitivity and absolute willingness, and for that I thank him."
Ibrahimović set up an online fundraiser in March to help hospitals at the center of the outbreak in Italy.
There has been a surge in the number of virus cases in Italy and Lombardy, the country's hardest-hit region in the pandemic. Italy reached a new daily record of nearly 25,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and added 205 deaths on Wednesday.
Further nationwide restrictions were introduced this week, while Milan is one of the cities that has also imposed an overnight curfew.