Arjen Robben has come out of retirement to once again don the colors of FC Groningen, the club where it all began for the Dutch International. Robben joined the youth setup at Groningen in 1996 before breaking into the team during the 2000-2001 season. His performances earned him a move to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven and high profiled moves to Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich followed. He retired after the 2018-19 season with Bayern as his minutes became limited due to the development of upcoming talent Serge Gnabry.
At 36 years of age Robben might have his best years behind him but the experience he can bring to Groningen will be undoubtedly important. He has won 11 league titles and a Champions League during his career and was part of the Netherlands team in 2010 that were runners up to Germany at the World Cup. “The club can use all help in this difficult time,” he told the club’s website upon his signing. Groningen was 8th when the season was canceled, nine points out of a European position.
Het voelt goed om thuis te zijn!? pic.twitter.com/5s3Yu1tsrD— Arjen Robben (@ArjenRobben) June 27, 2020
Upon hearing of his retirement FC Groningen fans started a campaign to get their former star back and after nearly a year it seems to have worked and in a video posted to the Groningen Twitter Account Robben said “I was 12 when I started playing in FC Groningen’s youth academy. 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.”
“We’re coming home during this time of crisis. It’s great to see how everyone is supporting the club. It made me think about what else I could do for our club. I’ve listened to the call of our supporters: ‘Arjen, follow your heart’: 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.”
“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 am going to join the team for the first training of the new season. I hope to see everyone as soon as possible.”
Robben certainly has nothing to prove after years of perpetual winning no matter where he went but getting his hometown club back into Europe for the first time since the 2015-16 season could be the only motivation needed.