Arjen Robben has surprised the football world by coming out of retirement to make an emotional return to boyhood club FC Groningen.
The 36-year-old announced to the world of social media on Twitter that he was making a shock return to Groningen, after his wife Bernadien persuaded him to get back to playing again for the Dutch side.
In the video clip posted by Robben he says:
“Dear football friends and FC Groningen fans. I was 12 years old when I started playing in FC Groningen’s youth academy. After a wonderful adventure of 18 years, we’re coming home. We’re coming home in this difficult time of crisis, one that also hits FC Groningen.
“These past few weeks I’ve had many conversations with club staff and maybe more than anything I’ve listened to the call of our supporters. A comeback as an FC Groningen player, I started to play with this idea and now I’ve made it my mission.”
Robben was also inspired to launch his comeback after the club showed him a montage of basketball legend Michael Jordan’s career. Officials from Groningen met with the veteran Robben just days after he retired from football back in May 2019. While that initial approach failed to convince him, further talks last month helped him make his mind up to return back to playing in the Eredivisie.
After joining Groningen back in 1996, the winger progressed to the first team where he made 46 appearances in two seasons, with eight goals to his name. PSV Eindhoven recognised his talent and snapped him up in 2002 where he played for two seasons scoring 17 goals in 56 appearances. In his debut season for the club he helped them lift the Dutch title for the 17th time.
Both Alex Ferguson and Roman Abramovich quickly became fans of the talented Dutchman, with United making a bid to PSV, which was soon turned down. Almost immediately Chelsea owner Abramovich moved in and offered the Dutch club 18 million euros that was snapped up straight away as he made his move to England in 2004.
Robben was at the West London club for three seasons, making 67 appearances and scoring 15 goals as well as helping Chelsea to back-to-back Premier League titles. His last appearance in a Chelsea shirt was in the FA Cup Final of 2007, which the Blues won in extra time against Manchester United.
Robben moved to Spain in August 2007, when Real Madrid secured his services after signing a five-year deal with the Spanish giants. He went on to make a half century of appearances for Madrid and hit the net 11 times.
In August 2009, Robben moved to German side Bayern Munich for around £25 million, where he spent ten successful seasons making over 200 appearances for Bayern and finishing one short of a century of goals. He also helped the club to eight Bundesliga titles as well as five German Cup wins.
Aside from being an immensely popular club player, Robben has had a wonderful international career in the Orange shirt of Holland. He made his debut in 2003 in an international friendly against Portugal at the tender young age of just 19. He went on to collect 96 caps between 2003 and 2017, scoring 37 goals, before retiring from international football in 2018.