FORMER St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus is relishing the prospect of facing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co when Shamrock Rovers take on AC Milan in the Europa League. 

The Irish outfit were drawn against the Italian giants earlier this week in a bittersweet draw, which will ultimately see fans miss out on memorable European clash. 

Mannus is no stranger to the Europa League after starring for St Johnstone between the sticks against the likes of Rosenborg, Luzern, Spartak Trnava and Minsk. 

But the 38-year-old knows the Rossoneri will pose a totally different challenge to what he is used to when they visit the Tallaght Stadium on September 17. 

“It is still feeling pretty crazy. I don’t really think it has sunk in,” admitted Mannus. 

“I was fortunate to have been with the club ten years ago when we played Juventus. It is kind of funny how it is exactly ten years ago, 2010. 

“For me to be here for that game and then go away for seven years and come back and get drawn against another huge Italian team is great. 

“Del Piero scored a free-kick, he was the biggest name, but obviously they are all big. David Trezeguet was also playing, quite a few of them aren’t there anymore but there was some big names. 

“It is obviously interesting for us to come up against teams like that – they are a world class team with world class players.” 

Mannus will likely test himself against one of the world’s greatest ever strikers in Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

The Swedish frontman has scored 56 goals in European competition to date, but former Northern Irish international Mannus will be tasked with ensuring he doesn’t add to that tally when the pair meet later this month. 

He said: “We don’t know what team they are going to play obviously but it would be nice if they played their main players like Zlatan and Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

“Juventus did, so it will be interesting to see what they do. Either way we will still be playing against world class players. 

“There will be quite a difference in the wage bill I imagine, so it will be quite an experience to be on the same pitch as them. 

“Zlatan will probably be the best player I have come up against, along with Del Piero. But we will see if I get to play and he gets to play, then we can say that afterwards.” 

He continued: “Going back to the Juventus game ten years ago, I think people just expected them to have twenty chances, but it can also go the other way and we can limit them. 

“We did that against them, they didn’t have loads of chances. Maybe they were playing within themselves. 

“I kind of thought they were really. They beat us 2-0 at home and 1-0 away and I thought they could have beaten us 6-0 if they wanted. 

“I know from playing against Celtic and stuff that you can have those days when you can limit them and take your chance. You never know on the night, it can just be one of those days.” 

There was an essence of disappointment for Mannus and the rest of the Shamrock Rovers squad with the match being decided over one leg, meaning the League of Ireland leaders will have no trip to the San Siro.  

He added: “On the one hand, we would have probably preferred to have played them over there, to experience that. 

“But then getting them at home, we would love our fans to be able to go to the game. 

“If there had been supporters allowed in a normal situation, then I’m sure the game would have been moved from our stadium, which holds 8,000 or something, to the national Aviva Stadium with over 40,000 full capacity there. 

“It would have been good for us in terms of having supporters at the game, but also financially for the club they have missed out on that. 

“With all that being said, we’ve still been drawn against them and we can’t have everything I suppose. 

“At the same time, what everyone is going through at the minute, it is another positive that we are still allowed to play football at the moment.”