This article was first published in May 2020 and has been updated.
In true trademark fashion, Arjen Robben has cut back inside on his retirement plans to sign for one more tour of duty with boyhood club FC Groningen.
The 36-year-old Dutch winger called time on his playing days when his contract with Bayern Munich expired last July, but the decision was officially reversed over the weekend.
Onze nieuwe aanwinst, in ons nieuwe thuisshirt!💚
Komende week worden de tenues officieel gepresenteerd. Tot morgen bij de persconferentie van Arjen Robben!🤩#Arjenvolgjehart #laatonsweereensjuichen pic.twitter.com/UD9bGTGuOH
— FC Groningen (@fcgroningen) June 27, 2020
Robben has signed a one-year deal with Groningen partly to assist in their hour of need and partly to realise his long-held “dream” of returning to a club he first joined as 12-year-old.
“It is my dream to wear the Groningen shirt again,” he said. “I don’t know yet whether this will work. What I do know is that it will not depend on my commitment and motivation. The club can use any help during this period to get through the corona crisis.”
✅ Done! And now back to work. 💪⚽️ @fcgroningen pic.twitter.com/HdedmvDRQn
— Arjen Robben (@ArjenRobben) June 28, 2020
Robben was linked with a surprise move to Brazilian side Botafogo last month but negotiations between the two camps failed to make it beyond the preliminary stage.
Indeed, after 18 years away, it would appear the lure of returning to the Euroborg stadium and pulling on the Groningen shirt one last time proved far too strong.
As inspiration, or perhaps in caution, here’s a timely nod to those ageing players who bowed out gracefully but just couldn’t leave football alone.
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Scholes first retired at the end of the 2010-11 season, bringing a close to nearly 20 years of loyal, esteemed and highly successful service at Manchester United…