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Six Legends Who Made Romantic Returns To Their First Clubs

Written By: Abidoye Babatunde

Sergio Ramos has returned to where it all started this week with the defender signing a deal with former club Sevilla.

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Ramos has rejoined the club where he came through the ranks after leaving PSG, having cemented his status as one of world football’s great modern defenders since first departing the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán as a teenager for Real Madrid.

Ramos is not the first modern great to have made a romantic return to their first club in the twilight of their career and we’ve remembered six stars who followed a similar path.

Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben’s career was spent at some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with the winger winning league titles in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany during a decorated career.

Robben’s rise to the top had started at FC Groningen, where he made just 52 appearances in all competitions before PSV prised the talented teenager from their divisional rivals.


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Robben racked up the honours at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich after leaving the Eredivisie, winning eight Bundesliga titles and the Champions League – in which he scored a late winner in the final against Borussia Dortmund – during his time with the latter.

The winger retired from football following the conclusion of the 2018/19 campaign, but later came out of retirement to rejoin Groningen. His second debut came almost two decades after his first for the club, with Robben making seven appearances before calling time on his career for good.

Robin van Persie

Robin van Persie formed part of the the same talented generation of Dutch footballers as Robben, having come through the academy system at Feyenoord.

He departed for Arsenal after just three seasons with the senior side and evolved into one of English football’s leading talents in north London. Van Persie was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year after winning the Golden Boot at Arsenal in 2011/12, before a controversial move to Manchester United.

His first season with the Red Devils saw Van Persie retain the Golden Boot as the league’s leading scorer, to fire Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to the Premier League title.

Van Persie scored 144 goals in the Premier League, with only Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry having scored more among overseas stars.

He rejoined Feyenoord in 2017, via a spell at Fenerbahce, and scored 25 goals in 45 appearances during his second spell before retirement.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney’s Everton emergence gripped the Premier League, with the talented teenager catapulting himself into the headlines with a last-gasp winner against champions Arsenal aged just 16.

That goal gave lift off to Rooney-mania, with the forward making his England debut at 17 and starring at the 2004 European Championship with the Three Lions a little more than a year later. It soon became apparent that Everton – then struggling in the Premier League’s bottom half – would be unable to retain the services of their homegrown starlet.

In came Manchester United with a record bid for a teenager and Rooney repaid the Red Devils’ faith across 13 seasons at Old Trafford. His 253 goals in all competitions broke Bobby Charlton’s club record, while he became one of just two English players, alongside teammate Michael Carrick, to win the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, League Cup, UEFA Europa League, and FIFA Club World Cup.

Rooney returned to Everton on a free transfer ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and scored 11 goals in 40 appearances, including a hat-trick against West Ham. Despite ending the season as Everton’s leading scorer, he signed for MLS side DC United at the end of the campaign.

Gianluigi Buffon

One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Gianluigi Buffon appeared destined for big things after a sensational debut for Parma in a goalless draw with AC Milan, aged just 17 years and 295 days.

Buffon formed part of Parma’s cult team of the late nineties and won a Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup double with the side in 1998/99, before completing a world-record £32.6m move to Juventus in 2001.

The record-breaking investment proved worth it for the Bianconeri, as Buffon made 656 appearances and won 10 Serie A titles in a career of incredible longevity and success.

Buffon called time on his career with Juventus in 2021 and rejoined Parma at the age of 43, 20 years after first leaving the club. He made 45 appearances across two seasons at Parma but was unable to help the club to promotion back into the top division.

He hung up his gloves in August 2023, departing as Italy’s record appearance maker (176), a World Cup winner and an undisputed icon of the game.

Andriy Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko’s career was one of perfect symmetry, bookended by two spells at Dynamo Kyiv.

Shevchenko starred in the exciting Dynamo Kyiv side of the late nineties, one which sprang some unforgettable surprises in Europe. He won five consecutive league titles with the Ukrainian side and scored 94 goals in 166 games, including a first-half hat-trick as Dynamo beat Barcelona 4-0 at the Camp Nou in the 1997/98 Champions League.

AC Milan spent big to sign Shevchenko and the forward thrived in Serie A, with his 175 goals for the Rossoneri making him the club’s second highest goalscorer of all time.

An ill-fated spell at Chelsea began the start of a decline for Shevchenko, who failed to rediscover his form after returning to Milan on loan, before re-joining Dynamo Kyiv in 2009.

Shevchenko scored 30 goals in 83 games during his second spell with Dynamo. Only four players have ever scored more goals for the club.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres was named captain of Atletico Madrid while still a teenager, with the club’s fans having taken the academy product to their hearts.

Torres scored 91 goals in 214 appearances for Atleti after emerging from the club’s ranks, form which saw El Niño regarded as one of Spanish football’s brightest talents. Liverpool won the race to sign Torres and he produced the best football of his career at Anfield, hitting 81 goals in just 142 appearances for the Reds.

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Chelsea broke the bank to sign the Spanish striker in a British record £50m deal in 2011, but he was unable to hit those same heights in west London despite FA Cup and Champions League success at Stamford Bridge.

After a short loan spell at AC Milan, he rejoined Atletico to much fanfare. He added another 38 goals in 160 games to his haul for his boyhood side and departed having won a first ever major trophy with the Colchoneros, lifting the Europa League in 2017/18.

Torres retired after a short spell in Japanese football with Sagan Tosu.

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