Arjen Robben returns from retirement to play for Boyhood club Groningen
Arjen Robben is a Groningen player again, as he is lured out of retirement by a pitch including clips from ‘The Last Dance’.
Reports confirmed on Saturday that Robben had agreed to come out of retirement and sign for Groningen. The same Dutch league club where the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich winger came through the ranks in 2000.
Robben retired last year following another Bundesliga-winning season with Bayern, with Groningen failing in a bid to sign him soon after.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Groningen technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus said. : “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.
How ‘The Last dance’ footage helped in Robben’s decision
“On May 21 I drove to Munich at the invitation of [Robben’s wife] Bernadien. We surprised Arjen there. It was a great moment.
“We ordered sushi from their favourite restaurant and we made a compilation of footage from the documentary ‘The Last Dance’ and footage of Robben.
“We then said that the best way to help our club was to play football with us.”
While Robben is unlikely to reach similar heights to those documented in the series about Michael Jordan and his final season with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98, he is relishing the challenge of returning to Eredivisie action.
“I’m here to help the club,” Robben said.
“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 to make the best of it.
“I haven’t set any goals, it could be over in a month or it could last two years.”
On his wife’s support for the decision to come out of retirement. He added: “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 starts to nag and I had been training to run the Rotterdam Marathon before the coronavirus crisis.”
Groningen 2019/20 season
Groningen were ninth when the Eredivisie season hit a hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Dutch FA cancelled the league season with no titles awarded and no relegations.
The 2020-21 campaign is now on schedule to begin in September this year. Arjen Robben will be playing for his boyhood club Groningen for at least a year and half.
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