Dutch club FC Groningen showed new signing Arjen Robben the memorable comeback of NBA legend Michael Jordan to persuade him out of retirement, Reuters reported.
The winger signed a one-year deal with his boyhood club on Saturday.
Robben started his career at Groningen before going on to play for PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in what was a trophy-laden career. Earning 96 caps for Netherlands, he is also a World Cup finalist.
According to the report, Robben was shown clips from Jordan’s documentary The Last Dance with images of his own career. The 36-year-old retired last year, two decades after making his debut for Groningen as a teenager.
“We first went to Munich to speak to him about coming to play for us, just days after he retired in May last year,” Groningen technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus told a news conference on Sunday after Robben signed a one-year contract with the club.
“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.”
Basketball superstar Jordan lifted three NBA titles with Chicago Bulls before quitting the sport. He made a dream return with the Bulls, powering them to three more championships.
Robben said he had his family’s blessing while making a return to competitive football: “It made the decision a lot easier knowing I had the support of my family,” he said.
“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 start to nag and I had been training to run the Rotterdam Marathon before the coronavirus crisis.”
The 2019-’20 season of the Eredivisie was cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new season is expected to start in September this year.
Robben played 96 international matches for the Netherlands, scoring 37 goals, and starred in the team which reached the 2010 World Cup final and finished third four years later.
He won two Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2005 and 2006, before claiming a La Liga winner’s medal with Real Madrid.
But Robben, a Groningen youth product, will be best remembered for his time at Bayern. He helped the Bavarians to eight Bundesliga crowns, five German Cups and the 2013 Champions League title, scoring 144 goals in 309 appearances for the club.