From Sergio Ramos’ emotional return to Sevilla, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United rollercoaster to Didier Drogba’s second stint success with Chelsea, here are five football players who returned to their former clubs.
Sergio Ramos to Sevilla
After his contract expiry at French side Paris Saint Germain, Spain veteran Sergio Ramos was left stranded without a club for a while before signing with La Liga club Sevilla earlier this month. After an 18-year gap, Ramos returned to the destination where it all began despite interest from Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad, Galatasaray, FC Porto and MLS.
Born in Camas, a few kilometres from Sevilla city centre, on 30th March 1986, Sergio joined the Sevilla FC academy aged seven. He progressed through the ranks before making his reserve-team debut aged 16, in the 2002/03 season and went on to make his senior team debut the following season. He featured in the first match of the 2005/06 season against Racing, before joining Real Madrid on deadline day.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo made a surprise return to the Premier League when he returned to Manchester United at the eleventh hour of the 2021 summer transfer window. However, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s time at Old Trafford was a turbulent affair. Not only the Portuguese didn’t manage to win a silverware but he also wasn’t able to contribute to the club like he did when he was under Sir Alex Ferguson’s tutelage.
In Ronaldo’s first stint with United, he scored a whopping 118 goals in 292 appearances compared to 27 in 52 games on his returns. This, by no means, is a statistic of an underperforming footballer but one would expect more from a player of Ronaldo’s stature. Towards the end, personal problems coupled with his tussle with current manager Eric Ten Hag came down crashing as Ronaldo was forced to exit the club and join Saudi Arabia club Al Nassr in the 2022 winter transfer window.
Didier Drogba to Chelsea
Didier Drogba is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in Chelsea’s history as he clinched 10 trophies in his decade-long association with the club. He was also one of the first marquee signings of the Roman Abramovic era when he joined Chelsea for a then-club record £24 million from Marseille. Under Jose Mourinho in the first season, the Ivorian went on to score 16 goals in 41 league appearances and was tagged an instant success, helping the club clinch the Premier League crown and the League Cup.
In his first eight-year stay in West London, Drogba was a part of the team that won three league and various domestic titles. The stay came to a poetic close when Drogba scored the equaliser in the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich, which Chelsea won on penalties. Drogba scored the last penalty as well to help Chelsea lift the Champions League in 2012.
Drogba moved to Turkey side Galatasaray in 2012 but returned to Stamford Bridge two years after, in 2014 summer transfer window. But his second stint was brief as he signed just a one year contract and got less than 900 minutes of playtime. However, the Premier League hall of fame inductee scored four goals and saw his team lift the league title.
Thierry Henry to Arsenal
After being a part of Arsenal’s squad for eight years, including the 2003-04 ‘invincible’ season where the London club went on to clinch the league title without a loss, Thierry Henry left the club in 2007 to Barcelona.
He shocked the Gunners in 2012 when he returned to the Emirates on a two-month loan to fill in for the injured Marouane Chamackh and Gervinho.
Prior to scoring the winning goal in the final seconds of a 2-1 league victory over Sunderland, Henry scored the winning goal against Leeds on his second FA Cup debut.
Wayne Rooney to Everton
Although Wayne Rooney etched his name in the annals of Manchester United, his roots trace back to the Merseyside club Everton, where it all started for the Englishman.
After graduating from Everton’s development programme in 2002, Rooney began his professional career at the Goodison Park, making 77 appearances over the course of two seasons before being signed by United.
In 2017, he departed as a United legend and headed back west to rejoin the Toffees. Even though he only played for Everton for one more season, he still managed to score 11 goals in 40 games.
Later, he joined Derby County as a player-coach before progressing to manage the Rams full-time and announcing his formal retirement from playing in January 2021.
- Ballon d’Or 2023 LIVE: Ceremony shortly; Latest Rankings; Messi, Haaland compete for men’s award; Live streaming info
- Smith: ‘South Africa’s middle-order is probably one of the most destructive ones we’ve ever had’
- ODI World Cup 2023: We did not play our best, says Sri Lanka spin coach Wijetunge after loss against Afghanistan
- Paris Masters 2023: Second seed Carlos Alcaraz not fully fit ahead of Round of 32 clash against Safiullin
- Paris Masters 2023: Americans Shelton, Tiafoe exit in opening round; Murray also loses