Scholes, Cruyff, Overmars: In remembrance of footballers who just won’t ‘retire’.

Arsenal and Manchester United are among some of the clubs to have benefited from the return of former players coming out of retirement to reignite the flame.

Six years ago today, Paul Scholes announced he would lace up his boots once again in order to help address an injury crisis at Old Trafford.

The midfielder helped United to the 2013 Premier League title before retiring once more, choosing to stay on an extra season after losing out to Manchester City in 2012.

In Scholes’ honour, we decided to look back at some of the best players who decided enough just wasn’t enough, and made a return to high-level football after their retirement.

Jens Lehmann
Having left Arsenal in 2008, Lehmann called it a day in 2010 but returned a year later when three of Arsene Wenger’s goalkeepers were out injured.

Lehmann put aside his feud with Manuel Almunia to sign as back-up but, after the Spaniard was injured in the warm-up ahead of a clash with Blackpool, the 42-year-old stepped in and played his part in a 3-1 win.

Johan Cruyff
Following his initial retirement in 1978, Cruyff cited financial reasons for his prompt return to football with Los Angeles Aztecs, having reportedly been scammed in Spain with false investments.

“I had lost millions in pig-farming and that was the reason I decided to become a footballer again,” he said at the time, going on to play for six further years, including a successful return to Holland with boyhood club Ajax and Feyenoord.


Robbie Rogers
Having been released by Leeds aged 25, Rogers chose to retire from the game, and in doing so came out as gay.

Stating he felt like a coward for not “stepping up to the plate”, he signed for LA Galaxy just a few months later, and became the first openly gay athlete to play in a top American professional sports league.

Now retired permanently due to persistent injuries, his story might be an important one in years to come.

Stephen Carr
After being released by Newcastle at the end of the season, Carr chose to hang up his boots in 2008 as he couldn’t find a club.

He did promptly return, however, signing for Birmingham in 2009. Twelve years after winning the League Cup with Tottenham, Carr captained the Blues to glory with a famous victory over Arsenal.

Roger Milla
If Milla had his way, nobody would ever have witnessed that famous corner flag wiggle, as the Cameroon striker attempted to retire a year before his heroics at Italia ’90.

Bringing his playing career to an end in 1989, Milla moved to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, but was called back for duty by Cameroon’s president Paul Biya.

Not content with the one World Cup, the forward carried on playing until the next, and at the age of 42 he was the oldest player to appear in the competition until his record was broken by Faryd Mondragon in 2014.

Carlos Roa
Roa, who Michael Owen scored *that* goal against in the 1998 World Cup, retired the following summer to take a religious retreat, despite reaching the final of the Copa Del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup and winning the Spanish Supercup.

The Argentine refused to discuss a new contract at Mallorca because he believed the world was going to end. When it didn’t, he sheepishly returned to play out his contract.


Marc Overmars
Four years after retiring due to a persistent knee injury, Overmars featured in Jaap Stam’s testimonial match and put in a performance which saw a host of clubs offer to sign him.

Having initially declined, the tricky forward re-signed for his first club, Go Ahead Eagles.

Landon Donovan
MLS’ all-time top scorer retired in 2014, but was asked to return in 2016 while working as a pundit on a game which saw three first-team players go off injured.

He couldn’t help them to yet another MLS title though, and the two-time Everton loanee retired once more at the end of the season.