THEY just didn’t want to hang up their boots.
These footballing stars were initially happy to retire, but performed a sensational U-turn when they were either needed to play, or simply missed the action.
Brazilian legend Denilson de Oliveira, once the world’s most expensive player, has just announced his sensational return to football aged 44.
Simply known as Denilson, the winger has penned a deal with Brazilian lower league side Ibis Sport Club – 12 YEARS after initially hanging up his boots.
The star played 61 times for Brazil between 1996 and 2003, and lifted the World Cup in 2002.
His £ 21.5million move from Sao Paulo in his homeland to Spanish outfit Real Betis in 1998 made him the world’s most expensive player at the time.
Denilson initially retired in 2010 after spells with Greek second-tier side Kavala and Vietnamese outfit Hai Phong.
But he is now readying himself for a return to the pitch.
He is not the first, and unlikely to be the last, to make a comeback.
From a Manchester United legend to one of the Premier League’s all-time greatest goalies, SunSport gives you the definitive names of players who came out of retirement to relive their glory days.
The Chelsea legend was last seen pulling on the Arsenal keeper’s jersey in 2019, hanging up his gloves after four years at the Emirates at the end of the 2018-19 season.
But it was with the Blues he was a cult hero, winning four Premier League titles in 11 years, which is why he returned to Stamford Bridge last year to take up a new role as technical and performance advisor.
In 2020, Cech, now 39, was added to Chelsea’s Premier League squad as an emergency goalkeeper.
Fortunately neither Edouard Mendy or Kepa Arrizabalaga got injured, preventing Cech from an on-pitch comeback.
Six months after he quit Old Trafford, Scholes decided he should pull on the Red Devils jersey once again in 2012.
It was a no-brainer for the midfield dynamo, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side having an injury crisis in the middle of the park having to play Phil Jones and Fabio Silva as a pair.
Incredibly, no one knew he was returning when he was named on the bench for the Manchester derby, not even his team-mates who would’ve been shocked to see his shirt hanging up in the dressing room.
United finished runners-up to their noisy neighbors that season, with Scholes playing 21 games.
He returned the following year to help United win back the Premier League, and retired again – this time for good.
The late Dutch master returned to the game out of a sense of necessity.
Cruyff was 31, but was skint after an investment that was supposed to set him up for life after football went wrong.
“I had lost millions in pig-farming and that was the reason I decided to become a footballer again,” he revealed.
He returned the same year he retired – 1978 – with the Los Angeles Aztecs for an admitted pay day.
Cruyff later returned to Holland and was successful with both Ajax and Feyenoord, before finally giving up the game in 1984.
Another flying Dutch winger, former Chelsea star Robben was the most recent addition to the list before Denilson’s stunning announcement.
And his reason was more sentimental.
Robben signed on a free transfer for boyhood club FC Groningen in 2020 at the age of 36 after retiring following his incredible spell at Bayern Munich.
But the romantic return was ruined by a long-term injury, restricting him to just six league outings, before he hung up his boots again for the second and last time in 2021.
After leaving the Gunners in 2008, the legendary German goalie was back for a second stint between the sticks for Arsenal in 2011 – a year after he put away his gloves.
Initially he was signed as a back-up to Manuel Almunia, after Arsene Wenger’s team suffered with injuries.
At 42, Lehmann was called upon for a game against Blackpool, after Almunia got injured in the warm-up.
His team were victorious – winning 3-1. But you can bet the competitive Jens would’ve been furious he didn’t keep a clean sheet.
After he was released by Leeds at the age of just 25, Rogers wasn’t sure if his future belonged in the game.
He then bravely came out as gay, revealing he felt like a coward for not doing it sooner.
In 2013, Rogers joined MLS giants Los Angeles Galaxy to become the first openly gay American athlete to play in a major sport.
Four years later, he announced his retirement because of persistent injuries.
Still one of the most bizarre moments in football EVER.
Roa was an outstanding goalkeeper for the Argentinian national team, as well as La Liga giants.
He starred for the Argies in the 1998 World Cup, and reached the final of the Copa Del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup, as well as won the Spanish Supercup.
But he believed that the world was going to end in 2000, so wouldn’t renew his contract beyond then.
When it didn’t, he came back with his tail between his legs because he still had a contract to fulfill.
When the former Spurs full-back was released by Newcastle in 2008, he had had enough of chasing wingers up and down the park.
With no takers wanting him as a free agent, Carr decided to call it a day.
A year later, he returned to the Premier League with Birmingham City.
In 2011, he captained the side to a famous League Cup final victory over Arsenal.
He hung up his boots in 2013 to begin his coaching career.
The Cameroon legend is best remembered for his star turn at the 1990 World Cup, where he couldn’t stop scoring, not to mention that brilliant dance celebration at the corner flag for every goal.
However, a year before Milla had decided he wasn’t fit for purpose and moved to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
It wasn’t until Cameroon’s president Paul Biya pleaded with him to return that he came back at 38.
He then returned four years later to become the oldest player to appear at the World Cup, a record which was beaten by Faryd Mondragon.
Recognized as the greatest player to ever play for the States, Donovan had initially left the LA Galaxy in 2014 as a champion.
But in 2016, he was asked to return to MLS action because of an injury crisis by the Galaxy.
Ironically enough, Donovan was working as a pundit on his former club’s game where they suffered three injuries during the match.
However, he couldn’t repeat his past success and the club ended up without a trophy and Donovan retired again.
Although he had lost that electric pace that made him such a threat in the past, Overmars wasn’t going to give up the ghost of playing.
After a brilliant career at Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona, he retired in 2004.
Then he starred in a testimonial for Jaap Stam some four years later, and was offered a route back into football.
He initially declined, believing his best days were past him.
However, he had aa change of heart when Go Ahead Eagles, his first ever club, offered him a deal.
He played 24 games in one season before finally retiring for good.