Arjen Robben is known for his Bayern Munich days, his trademark run down the right-wing and then cutting inside to curve the ball into the net with his magical left foot. He formed a terrific partnership with Franck Ribery and the duo was called ‘Robbery’.
Robben made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2000 for FC Groningen. It is his boyhood club. The winger also played for Chelsea, PSV Eindhoven and Real Madrid, winning 12 league titles and earning 96 caps for the Netherlands including the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg.
He announced his retirement last season after ten trophy-laden seasons with Bayern Munich. After 12 months out of the football field, he has now decided to come out of retirement to join his boyhood club, FC Groningen.
Arjen Robben said in a clip: “Dear football friends and FC Groningen fans. I was 12 years old 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 in this difficult time of crisis, one that also hits FC Groningen. It’s great to see how everyone supporting the club, I’ve supported the club as well. 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’ve listen to the call of our supporters. 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.”
Groningen technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus told a news conference on Sunday after Robben signed a one-year contract with the club: “We first went to Munich to speak to him about coming to play for us, just days after he retired in May last year. That didn’t happen. But we kept up contact and then arranged secretly with his wife to travel down and talk to him again last month.”
Robben further said: “The difference in the standard between Bayern and Groningen is naturally a lot different but I’m here to help the club. You do that by showing the right attitude. I don’t have anything to lose and I’m going into the challenge with a positive attitude and to try and make the best of it. I haven’t set any goals, it could be over in a month or it could last two years.”
Robben was happy that his wife Bernadien was in favour of his comeback. He said: “It made the decision a lot easier knowing I had the support of my family. Retiring was the toughest decision of my career, maybe a little forced upon me with all the injuries.”
“We decided to stay a year in Munich to enjoy the city and get used to the idea of not playing football. I didn’t watch much for about six months and really enjoyed doing other things. But eventually, the sports lover in you start to nag and I had been training to run the Rotterdam Marathon before the coronavirus crisis.”
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