Former Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Chelsea winger Arjen Robben has come out of retirement and signed for Dutch Eredivisie side FC Groningen.
The 36-year-old had called time on his illustrious career after helping Bayern Munich win a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2018-19.
However, a change of heart has led the former Netherlands international to wanting to make a sentimental return to the club where he started his career.
Robben, who had been spotted training with Bayern recently, explained he wants to play his part in helping Groningen recover following the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was 12 years old when I started playing in FC Groningen’s youth academy,” Robben said. “I made my home debut against Feyenoord when I was 16. After two years I made a transfer to PSV Eindhoven.”
“After a wonderful adventure of 18 years, we’re coming home, back to Groningen. We’re coming home during this difficult time or crisis, one that also hit FC Groningen. It’s great to see how everyone is supporting the club.”
“I’ve supported the club as well and it made me think about what else I could do for our club. 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. I want to make my comeback as a football player, a player of FC Groningen,” Robben added.
“At this time, I’m not sure it will happen. What I am sure of is that my drive and motivation will be at 100 per cent. It will be a tough physical challenge but I’m going for it.”
“I am going to work hard and when everything feels right, I will join the team for the first training of the new season.”
Robben made his professional debut with Groningen in 2000 and spent two seasons there before joining PSV, where he won a league title in the 2002-03 season.
He won further championships in England, Spain and Germany with Chelsea, Madrid and Bayern respectively, in the process becoming one of the world’s best wide players.
He won 96 caps for Netherlands, scoring 37 times, and was part of the Dutch team that was beaten in the 2010 World Cup final by Spain in South Africa.
Het voelt goed om thuis te zijn!💚 pic.twitter.com/5s3Yu1tsrD
— Arjen Robben (@ArjenRobben) June 27, 2020