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Top 10 Football Player Comebacks

Neil Sullivan first left Wimbledon in 2000, but after 12 years and stints at four other clubs the Scotland international has now returned to AFC Wimbledon at the ripe old age of 42 to help them fend off relegation to the Blue Sq Premier. In honour of the veteran’s return to the Dons, we here at take a look at the top 10 players who have made notable moves back to former clubs. 

10. Juninho

Having joined Boro from Sao Paulo it may have been expected that the little maestro would have been less than impressed with the climate and general ambience of his new home in the north east of England, but it was quite the opposite. The Brazilian loved Teeside so much he spent three spells at the club and even an extra cameo appearance in a friendly at the end of his career. The comebacks were never quite the same as his sensational first spell, but it hasn’t stopped the Riverside faithful idolising him for his loyalty to the club. He even said that winning the league cup with Boro was better than winning the World Cup with Brazil – now there’s a fan’s favourite.

9. Jurgen Klinsmann

The two spells the German had at White Hart Lane were prolific to say the least as he kept up his incredible goal scoring record in England as he had across much of the rest of Europe. Jurgen cost Spurs £2 million in 1994 and although he was only there just over a year he made quite an impact, scoring 30 goals in 50 appearances. He left for Bayern Munich then moved to Sampdoria but returned to London on loan in 1997, netting nine goals in 15 games to keep his brilliant strike rate for the club up.

8.Barry Ferguson

It is easy to forget that at one point a Premier League side paid a full £7.5 million for Barry Ferguson to wrench him away from his beloved Glasgow Rangers, but it turned out not to be a great investment as the Scot could not bear to be away from Glasgow. Ferguson didn’t even spend two full seasons at Blackburn Rovers before announcing that nothing could compete to playing for Rangers in an Old Firm derby and swiftly returned to Ibrox for a fraction of the price he was sold for. There were some unsavoury incidents after his return but the triumphant nature of his comeback sees him onto this list.

7. Teddy Sheringham

Teddy may have been tempted away to Manchester United to win Premier Leagues, FA Cups and the Champions League but he is still a hero at White Hart Lane after two great spells in North London. There is something about Spurs that seems to attract strikers back to the club after time away and Sheringham couldn’t resists the allure of a comeback after spending time at Old Trafford. The England hitman may not have hit the goal scoring heights that he did first time around, but another 26 goals in two years represents a worthwhile return to say the least.

6. Jermaine Defoe

Few players make their second spells at a club their best but Jermaine Defoe is one who has after a short and successful sabbatical at Portsmouth improved his scoring abilities even more. Defoe netted 64 times for Spurs in his first spell and is only two off that now having played nearly 40 fewer games during his second. He has also had his best time in an England shirt since his return to White Hart Lane having scored 11 of his 17 international goals since re-signing. He is eighth on the all-time top scorers list for Spurs and whilst Jimmy Greaves’ 266 might be out of reach, he will almost certainly crack the top five and achieve legendary status at the club.

5. Juan Sebastien Veron

Rarely has a player experienced as much between spells at a club as Juan Sebastien Veron whose career even excluding two stays at Estudiantes is more storied than the vast majority of men. Starting at the club all the way back in 1994, he quickly impressed and moved to Boca at the age of 21 then went on to win titles in Italy and England, and have nearly £80 million spent on him in transfer fees before returning to them a decade later. It wasn’t just a token turn out at the end of his career though making over 150 appearances and helping them win their first Copa Libertadores for 39 years. It’s fair to say that the little witch done good.

4. Johann Cruyff

Nothing was ever going to top the great man’s first spell at Ajax, but his short-lived Indian Summer at the club near the end of his playing days will still be warmly remembered by fans around at the time. His first era yielded six league titles, four Dutch cups and three European cups managing 251 goals in 319 appearances between 1964 and ’73. His two years back in Amsterdam saw him lift two more titles and another cup, scoring 16 more goals along the way, so very much successful if not as blistering as first time around.

3. Mark Hughes

The Welshman started his career at Old Trafford and did well enough to attract the attention of Barcelona I 1986 and he duly moved to join El Tel at the Nou Camp. However, his spell abroad was unsuccessful and United were happy to welcome him back in 1988, and Sir Alex Ferguson was certainly pleased to have him back at the club. He went on to surpass anything he achieved first time around as he banged in double figures for seven consecutive seasons, winning two league titles and a pair of FA Cups on the way.

2. Peter Beardsley

A hero to many across the country but nowhere more so than in Newcastle where Peter Beardsley is something of a legend thanks to his two spells at the club. After a fairly unusual start to his career on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean the creative force that was Beardsley really came to prominence at St James’ Park in the mid-80s, scoring and creating a hat full of goals to get the Toon back into the First Division and keeping them there. He left to win titles with Liverpool but returned to be part of Kevin Keegan’s “Entertainers” and although they never managed to win the Premier League they will go down in history as a great side; and Beardsley will also as a great man.

1. Ian Rush

The Welshman was a goal machine, but luckily for Liverpool he wasn’t a machine that performed well on foreign soil. After 207 goals for the Reds, Rush was sold to Juventus in 1987, but clearly didn’t understand what he was getting himself in for as he declared being in Italy was, “like living in a foreign country.” Duly he returned to Merseyside and it was like he had never been away as he netted another 139 times for the club before leaving for Leeds in 1996. Rush won five league titles with Liverpool, three FA Cups, five league cups and a European Cup; also becoming their record ever goal scorer along the way. Never has a return to a club been quite as successful as the most prolific front man in Reds history.


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