Former Bayern Munich star, Arjen Robben, who announced his retirement from football a year ago, was introduced as a new Groningen player on Sunday and said he has returned to professional football “for the love of the club” where he began his career.

The star will play for the Eredivisie’s Groningen and he said he will do so for the love of his colours.

The 36-year-old explained that he was offered a return to the Netherlands last May, but ruled out a return to coaching at youth level or as part of the management team.

“If I can do something for the club, I think the area where I can be most valuable is on the pitch,” the Dutch left-hander, who has signed a one-year contract, said during a press conference.

“Initially we are talking about a comeback attempt, but I feel pretty good and I think we are on the right track.

I still have to take some more steps, but I have a very good feeling about the future,” said the former Real Madrid player.

He also said he is returning to professional football because he has been asked to do so by the club that saw him grow up.

“If another team had come with a good offer, I don’t think I would have accepted it,” he said.

Regarding his retirement in July 2019, when he was still wearing the Bayern Munich shirt, he explained that “it was due to some physical problems and it was a more or less forced decision“, but “the pain and discomfort has disappeared”.

“I hardly saw any football the first few months after leaving Bayern and it suited me, but football still seems like a fun sport and the desire to play has returned,” he said.

Robben’s return has caused great excitement in Groningen, as the club has sold 1,600 season tickets for next season since the announcement of his return less than 24 hours ago.

“Of course, the difference in level with Bayern Munich is big, but I’m doing it for the team and I hope I can have fun,” he said.

“I feel very fit, I was even training for the Rotterdam marathon,” he said, referring to the Netherlands’ biggest long-distance event, whose edition was postponed to October by the coronavirus.


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