Some players came back and achieved a remarkable feat.
The career span of sports like football is very less. It is primarily because of the physical efforts that the sport requires. Other issues include injury problems. It is generally 10 to 15 years max for any player at the top tier. During this duration, the player experiences and gets a shot at the club playtime a lot. But as far as international football is concerned, a player witnesses less time representing his nation as compared to a club. This is because of the fewer international games and long gaps between major international trophies. An average to the good player at the most witnesses only two to three World Cups.
There are many players who took relatively early retirement from international football to pave way for the younger ones or to bring change to the team. A recent example is that of Eden Hazard, who took retirement at the age of 31 after their humiliating exit from the World Cup 2022 Group Stage. But over the years, some players have come out of their retirement to serve their nation again whether be it because of a cause or due to fans pressure, many top players have opted to return.
Players who came out of retirement
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
The Moroccan international announced his retirement in early February aged 28. He was at loggerhead with the then-Moroccan coach Vahid Halilhodzic. The retirement came when the coach snubbed Ziyech from the African Cup of Nations squad. The argument dates back to June last year. The coach seems to have been unhappy with Ziyech regarding his attitude, which became the key reason for the snub according to the coach. But under the new coach Walid Regragui, Ziyech decided to return and represent his nation on the World Cup stage. This World Cup became phenomenal for the African side as they become the first African and Arab teams to reach the World Cup semis.
Michel Platini (France)
The French legend is one of the best players that the European nation of France has produced. He announced his retirement from the French international squad in 1987. But he came back to the international scene by representing Kuwait on the world stage. After a request from Kuwait’s Emir, Platini played for Kuwait in a match against the Soviet Union.
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George Weah (Liberia)
The footballer turned President of the African nation of Liberia was one of the finest players in the footballing world. After his footballing career, he pursued politics in his home country Liberia and became the President. After retiring from football, Weah played once more at the age of 51. The striker played in a special friendly against Nigeria while being the President of the nation.
Lillian Thuram (France)
The French defender is the second-most-capped French player with 142 appearances to his name. He is the winner of the 1998 World Cup with the French squad. He decided to take retirement in 2004 after France’s poor performance in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 quarterfinals exit. But soon, with World Cup 2006 coming, the coach Raymond Domenech was able to change Thuram’s mind and made him come out of retirement. He along with the French team reached the finals only to be defeated by the Italians. He played till 2008 after leading his team to a disappointing Euro 2008 campaign.
Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands)
The Dutch legendary goalkeeper is the second most capped player in Netherlands football history. In a radio interview, the goalkeeper shared his intent about retiring after the EURO 2008 but due to the pressure from the coach Bert van Marwijk he decided to appear in the 2010 World Cup qualifications too. It was because of the fact that both the remaining goalkeepers were injured.
Roy Keane (Republic of Ireland)
The Manchester United star’s star retirement/disagreement with the coach fumed the controversy known as The Saipan incident. Roy Keane came at loggerheads with his Irish national team coach Mick McCarthy. Things got worse when Keane gave an interview against the coach and criticised the team spirit and the state of the Irish camp. McCarthy after having a heated argument with Keane suspended him and sent him home from the squad. Roy Keane would return to the camp in 2004 only after McCarthy’s resignation. However, many fans have criticised Keane for keeping United’s interest above his national side.
Wayne Rooney (England)
The second most capped player for England and the joint top scorer for the English side, Wayne Rooney had a remarkable career both at club and country. He announced his retirement in 2017. But he then returned to the international stage not for any competitive match but for a charity match. The match was his 120th and final appearance in the three lions’ jersey. The match was played between USA and England. The charity was ‘Wayne Rooney Foundation International.
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
The Italian Goalkeeping legend just doesn’t seem to get old. He is the most capped Italian international and was an important part of the Italian squad defending their goalpost for two decades (1997-2018). He announced his retirement in 2017 but returned to the scene in 2018 against England and Argentina in international friendlies. Gigi gave his obligation to the duty and a tribute to David Astori as the reason for his return.
Zinedine Zidane (France)
Another French superstar on the list, Zidane went into retirement with other players like Thuram, Makelele and others. He was also convinced by the coach Raymond Domenech to return and lead the French squad in the 2006 World Cup. The Ballon D’or winner gave a stunning performance in the World Cup 2006 in Germany and lead them to the finals. The final infamously came to be identified with Zidane’s Headbutt resulting in a red card.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Considered the greatest of all time by fans and experts around the world, Leo Messi announced his retirement from the world stage after their defeat in the Copa America final in 2016 against Chile. However, he soon returned to lead the Albiceleste after fans begged for it. He is currently leading his team in the World Cup 2022 and will be playing in the final of the tournament. Messi has got another opportunity to lift this coveted which earlier slipped through his hands in 2014.
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