Football players who came out of retirement

Fri 13 November 2020 | 7:30

A look at most known football players who came out of retirement to shine again on the field including the likes of Zico, Jens Lehman and Arjen Robben.

One of the hardest days in a footballer's career is when he or she decides to call it a day and hang the boots. They usually don't know what to do with their lives outside of football. Some of them become managers and some others try to start a new career. And then there are those footballers whom, for different reasons, cannot resist the temptation to come out of retirement to resume playing.

It's interesting to study the motivations of famous footballers who returned from retirement. Some like Paul Scholes came out of retirement to once again help their beloved teams. Some others like

Arjen Robben

are tempted by the idea of ending their careers in their boyhood clubs. And then there are those who can't refuse the lucrative offers they receive after retirement from healthy but mediocre clubs.

Whatever the reason, it is often a joyful experience for fans to once again see their beloved players dazzling the football field. Among the famous Football players who came out of retirement, some like Scholes and Johan Cruyff were as successful after retirement as they were before it. While some others like Romario and Roberto Carlos struggle to recapture their best form.

For now let's go through football's history and know about all the

Football legends who came out of retirement to resume playing career


All the famous Football players who came out of retirement

The following is a list of 15 famous

footballers who came out of retirement

and had a big impact on their team's results. The entertaining list consists of great legends like Brazilians Romario and Zico as well as Premier League veterans Paul Scholes and Jens Lehmann.


The legendary Brazilian midfielder had an immensely successful career from 1971 to 1989 in which he won all the possible trophies with his beloved club,


and reached the 1982 FIFA World Cup third place.

Zico was one of the few footballers who pursued a political career after his retirement from football. He even became the minister of sports after the first presidential election in Brazil. Yet fate had different plans for Zico as he received an offers first from Sumitomo Metals and later Kashima Antlers, two of Japan's biggest clubs.

Zico Played four seasons in Japan's A-League, where he scored 46 goals in 67 appearances.

Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehman first retired from football in 2008 after reaching the highest of heights with his beloved club,


. He was Arsene Wenger's first choice goalkeeper in Arsenal's golden years and together they did the impossible by winning the Premier League 2003-04 season without a single defeat. A record still unbroken in English top division.

In 2010 Lehmann famously came out of retirement when Arsene Wenger was without all his three goalkeepers. At the time Lehmann had feud with Manuel Almunia, but decided to set aside his disagreements with him. After Almunia got injured in the game against Blackpool, the 42-years old Lehmann stepped into the pitch and helped his old club into a 3-1 win.

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The Brazilian defender spent the majority of his career in As Roma and was the captain of the team which won the

Serie A

title in 2002. Aldair played 13 years in Roma and is one of the players in AS Roma Hall of fame. His best achievement though was winning the 1994 World Cup with Brazil national team.

After leaving Roma in 2003, Aldair had brief spells at Genova and Rio Branco before retiring at the age of 40. Two years later he came out of retirement as a favor to his friend and played 10 games for San Marino Club, Murata, one of those games was the 2007 Champions League play-off.

Paul Scholes

One of the most

famous footballers who returned from retirement

, Paul Scholes won absolutely everything in his 18 years spell at his all-time club,

Manchester United

. Scholes first retired from football in 2011 after winning his tenth Premier League title with the Red Devils.

Less than a year later he was on Manchester United's bench again, much to the surprise of all the fans and critics. The story goes that no one knew about his return except Sir Alex Ferguson himself. He made his debut in the 3-2 win against Manchester United and went on to play another 3 seasons at Manchester United, winning one more Premier League title along the way.


The famous Brazilian goalkeeper retired from football in 2010 after losing out his place to Abbiati. He tried in vain to secure himself a contract with another team. in 2012 he returned to


, hoping to end his career on a high.

His decision turned out to be a good one as he played three seasons in Brazil's Serie A. In total, Dida played 96 games at Portuguesa, Gremio and Internacional, winning Campeonato Gaucho with the latter in 2014 and 2015.

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Roberto Carlos

After winning the most important collective trophies with

Real Madrid

and Brazil National team, Roberto Carlos began touring the world, playing in clubs like Anzhi Makhachkala, Courintians and Fenerbahce before retiring in 2012 at the age of 38.

However it was not the end for the legendary left-back as in 2015, it was announced that he had signed to be the player-manager of the Delhi Dynamos of the Indian Super League for the 2015 season. Carlos played 3 games in his single season in India and called it a day for good in 2016.

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Marc Overmars

The story of Overmars's return from retirement is bizarre comparing to other

football players who came out of retirement

, as the Dutch winger resumed playing four years after his first retirement. Overmars first retirement was in 2004 after four moderately successful seasons with


Four years later, Overmars played in Jaap Stam's testimonial match and His performance was so goof that many clubs offered him a chance to resume playing professionally. Overmars refused at first, but later announced he was to come out of retirement to play for Go Ahead Eagles.

Overmars' comeback lasted only one season as he was forced to hang his boots for good because of an old knee injury.

Robbie Rogers

A very interesting case in our list of Football players who came out of retirement, Robbie Rogers first quit football when he was 25 years old. After being released by

Leeds United

, Rogers simultaneously announced his retirement and his homosexuality.

A few months later Rogers signed for LA Galaxy and became the first openly gay athlete to play in a top American professional sports league. He retired shortly after his return because of consistent injuries.

Arjen Robben

The most recent case in the list of Football legends who came out of retirement to resume playing career, Arjen Robben retired from football in 2019 after a highly successful spell with Bayern Munchen.

Like many of his fellow super stars, Robben had a dream of ending his career in his teenage club and unlike many of those stars, he pursuit his dream and came out of retirement in 2020 to play for FC Groningen. He was brilliant in pre-season friendlies and even scored a beautiful goal in his first game for the club, but injured himself in Groningen's first League game.

We hope the talented Winger would have a happier ending comparing to other famous footballers who came out of retirement.

Roger Milla

Roger Milla has the most fateful stories among Football legends who came out of retirement to resume playing career. He retired from football before the start of 1990 World Cup, but came back upon the request of


's then president, Paul Byia.

Milla famously led Cameroon to the World Cup last eight, the highest by any African country in the history of the competition. Yet he was not finished yet and four years later, at the age of 42 he became the oldest player in the history to score a goal in the World Cup as he scored Cameroon's only goal in the 6-1 defeat against Russia.

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 Carlos Roa

Carlos Roa was Argentina's first choice goalkeeper in the 1998 World Cup, where they were eliminated by


in a memorable match. Soon after the World Cup, Roa bizarrely retired from football because he believed the world was about to come to an end in the year 2000.

His doomsday prophecy soon turned out to be false and Roa retuned to football after seeing the world safe and sound again, but never reached the level he had before retirement. Roa is indeed a very interesting case among the Footballers who came out of retirement.

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Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff is definitely the most

famous footballers who returned from retirement

. The legendary Dutch mastermind retired from football in 1978, but was forced to come out of retirement after he lost big sums of his money in pig farming.

Cruyff resumed playing at Angeles Aztecs and went on to play for six further years, including a successful return to his country with Feyenoord and his boyhood club



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Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann is the only German in our list of Football players who came out of retirement. Klinsmann won the 1990 World Cup with


and had a highly successful club career with Inter Milan and Tottenham before retiring for the first time in 1998.

Five years later, in 2003 Klinsmann moved to United States and played for a brief period in Orange County Blue Star in the fourth-tier Premier Development League. Klinsmann hanged his boots for good in 2004 and became a successful coach soon after.


The sixth Brazilian in the list of Football players who came out of retirement is the veteran striker, Romario. The legendary striker is a one of the few players to score more than a thousand goal. After a highly successful career in Eindhoven, Barcelona and Vasco da Gama Romario retired from football in 2007 at the age of 41.

However he announced later that year that he would come out to play his last game for his beloved club,

Vasco da Gama

to honor his dad's wishes. He came on in the 68th minute in his final game and helped his team to win 2-0 and clinched the title.

Landon Donovan

London Donovan is the only American In the list of

Football players who came out of retirement

. Donovan is one of the most famous American footballers in the history. During his successful career he played in three World Cups and had amazing spells at Bayern Munich,


and LA Galaxy before retiring in 2016.

Donovan announced his return to the football pitch two years later as signed a contract with Leon. He played 6 games without scoring and in 2019 played indoor soccer for San Diego Sockers. Donovan retired for the second time in 2019 and is looking forward to start his managerial career.


The last Brazilian legend in our list of Footballers who came out of retirement is Socrates, a charismatic midfielder who was sensational both as player and a political activist. He even got a doctorate degree in Medicine while he was still playing professional football.

Socrates came out of retirement in 2004 when he was at the age of 50. He signed a contract as a player-coach with Garforth town in the Northern Counties East Football League in England.

Socrates made a single professional appearance, coming on a substitute for the last 12 minutes of the game against Tadcaster Albion. After the game he confessed that his physical condition will not endure high level football and retired from playing all together.

So here it was! Our list of Football players who came out of retirement. Which player you liked the most? Which player's decision to resume playing was more memorable? Who should have been included in list? Let us know in the comments below.

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