Arjen Robben has announced a stunning return to professional football with his first club, Groningen.
The winger retired from the game in July 2019 after a brilliant career, which included spells with Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and more than 20 major title wins.
Now, though, with his boyhood club reeling from the devastating effects of coronavirus, he is planning to return to the pitch to lend a helping hand at the age of 36.
“I was 12 years old when I started playing in Groningen’s youth academy, I made my home debut against Feyenoord when I was 16,” Robben explained in a video released on the Eredivisie side’s official Twitter account on Saturday.
“After two years I made a transfer to PSV Eindhoven. After a wonderful adventure of 18 years we’re coming home! Back to Groningen.
“We’re coming home during this difficult time of crisis, one that also hits FC Groningen. It’s great to see how everyone is supporting the club, I’ve supported the club as well and it made me think about what else I could do for our club.
“These past weeks I’ve had many conversations with club staff and maybe more than anything I’ve listened to the call of our supporters: Arjen, follow your heart!”
The former Netherlands international went on to vow that, while there was no guarantee that he would regain enough match fitness to resume his playing career, he would do everything possible to make himself an asset to the Groningen squad ahead of what is bound to be a difficult 2020-21 season.