Having played for decades, most times players find it taxing to just hang their boots and face other spheres of life. Here are 12 players who returned to the field after officially announcing their retirement.

Paul Scholes.

On January 8, 2012, more than six months after announcing his retirement, Scholes was named on the bench for the Manchester derby. Not even his team-mates knew he was returning before they got into the dressing room that day, never mind the shocked United fans – and media – inside the stadium.

Scholes ended up making 21 appearances in the second half of the season and then stayed on for another year as United won back their last league title before Sir Alex Ferguson retired from football with Paul Scholes at his side.

Jens Lehmann

Former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann hung up his gloves in 2010 after leaving Arsenal, only to come back a year later when Arsene Wenger was short on goalkeepers. Although he had an ongoing feud with former teammate Manuel Almunia, he came through for him by signing as backup—until the Spaniard got injured during a pre-game warm-up before Blackpool game, forcing Lehmann to step in and play all 90 minutes for them.

Johan Cruyff

Following Johan Cruyff's initial retirement in 1978, he 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.

Having been released by Leeds aged 25 (following several seasons of injuries), Robbie Rogers chose to retire from the game when coming out as gay. He told reporters It just came out; it took me 23 or 24 years of my life to finally say it. He made headlines when signing for LA Galaxy shortly after - becoming the first openly gay athlete to compete in one of America's top professional sports leagues.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben.

Robben enjoyed an illustrious career at PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich but announced his retirement in 2019 after citing the toll injuries had taken on him. However, the winger seemed to regret his decision, having been welcomed back for one last season with his boyhood club FC Groningen in 2020-21.

I was 12 when I started playing in FC Groningen’s youth academy, he said in a video posted on Groningen’s Twitter account. I made my home debut against Feyenoord when I was 16. After two years I made a transfer to PSV Eindhoven. After 18 incredible seasons - we're coming home

Stephen Carr.

After being released by Newcastle at the end of the season, Carr choose to retire from soccer altogether. His last stint was with Birmingham in 2009 where he captained them to victory over Arsenal; twelve years after his first League Cup win with Tottenham Hotspur.

Roger Milla.

If Roger 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, he moved to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion but was called back for duty by Cameroon's president Paul Biya. After winning one World Cup already—and not content with just two appearances-at the age of 42, he became the oldest player to appear in the competition again when Faryd Mondragon beat him out in 2014.

Carlos Roa

Funny to believe but Carlos Roa thought the world was going to end and decided to take on a religious retreat, he retired the summer after Michael Owen scored that wonderful screamer against him in the 1998 world cup. Let's say things didn't turn out the way he thought, and the Argentine was back to playing for Mallorca again.

Marc Overmars

After putting out an excellent performance in Jaap Stand Testimonial match four years after his retirement, this player had a couple of clubs offering to sign him despite the original cause of his retirement (persistent knee injury). Although he initially declined the offers, he still played for his first club "Go Ahead Eagles"

Landon Donovan

The MLS’ all-time top scorer Landon Donovan retired in 2014. But had his ass back in the game in 2016 after a fixture had three first team players go off in injuries.

He couldn’t help them to yet another MLS title though, and later retired at the end of that particular season.


 Attempting to retire at 36 years old in 1989, after plagued with three years of constant injury, Zico decided to return  in Japan with Kashima Antlers, creating an unexpected wave of football proficiency. He later retired in 1994 at age 41.


Having a long career time, Romario had his way on the pitch for 3 decades, he is considered by many as one of the greatest. Although quitting in 2008, he suddenly showed up back on field for the America FC, a native club based in Rio de Janeiro.

It was revealed that his father had supported that team and the Brazilian star went on to win the Carioca Championship second-division title that season.

Paul Gascoigne

One might find it difficult to keep record of the times paul Gascoigne was in and out of his career. the official decision to hang up his boots came in 2004 following a largely miserable few months at Chinese side Gansu Tianma.

 Some of his signings following his official  retirement barely lasted weeks. 12 years away, the England legend signed for Abbey FC, his local Sunday league side, after apparently being convinced to do so by a taxi driver who also happened to be Abbey's manager.