Former Netherlands and Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben has come out of retirement to sign for his hometown club FC Groningen.
Robben, 36, announced his retirement almost a year ago after a 19-year professional career which started in Groningen’s academy.
Robben played for PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid and ended his career at Bayern – winning trophies in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany – and was a runner-up at the World Cup in 2010.
He won the Champions League with Bayern in 2012/13 scoring the winning goal in the 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.
Speaking in a video on Groningen’s social channels on Saturday Robben said his return would “be a tough physical challenge but I am going for It!”.
In an open letter to football fans across the world as well as Groningen supporters, Robben said: “Dear football fans and Groningen fans, I was 12 years old when I started playing in Groningen’s youth academy.
“I made my home debut against Feyenoord when I was 16. After two years, I made a transfer to PSV. After a wonderful adventure of 18 years, we’re coming home back to Groningen.
“We’re coming home during this difficult time of crisis, one that also hits 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 have listened to our supporters: ‘Arjen, follow your heart’.
“A comeback, as a 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 Groningen. At this time, I am not sure if 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 session of the new season.
“I hope to see everyone as soon as possible. Because my dream is to play in a Groningen jersey. We’re not there yet, but one can dream. I hope to see you soon.”