Top Second Spell Footballers
With strong rumours of a return to Chelsea for Didier Drogba in a player/coach role, lets take a look at the top footballers who returned to a club for a second or even third spell.
Ian Rush (Liverpool)
For those too young to remember Ian Rush in the 1980s the striker was so clinical it’s a surprise he didn’t wash his hands before each of the 139 goals he notched during his first stint at Anfield.
This goalscoring form led to a record move to Juventus, a transfer that was also seen as an olive branch between the clubs following the Heysel disaster.
The defensive style in Serie A didn’t suit the Welshman and he bagged just eight goals in his only season in Italy before returning to Merseyside, spending less time with the Old Lady than a young Wayne Rooney on a night out.
Rush was famously quoted as saying that “Italy was like living in a foreign country” and he soon re-found his form in England, adding another 90 goals to his Liverpool account, before winding down his career with Sydney Olympic which must have been like living in another continent for the striker.
Mark Hughes (Manchester United)
Around the same time Ian Rush was packing his bags for Turin, Manchester United striker Mark Hughes was embarking on his own overseas adventure to Barcelona.
He’d scored 37 times in 89 appearances for United but the lure of higher wages and the chance to play in European competitions, during the post-Heysel ban on English clubs, was too much for the combative striker and he joined fellow Brit Gary Lineker at the Nou Camp for £2 million.
Like his fellow Welshman Rush he endured a poor solitary season with his new club and was jettisoned to Bayern Munich on loan the following year. He gained some of his confidence, and form, back in Germany and Alex Ferguson made him one of his first major signings at Old Trafford in a £1.8 million deal in 1988.
He played as if he’d never left and was a major contributor to Ferguson’s initial trophy success at the club, most memorably grabbing both goals in what must have been a personally gratifying victory over Barca in the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup final.
If any one player personified the sudden globalisation of the English Premier League it’d be hard to see past Juninho (apart from the fact he’s only about 5 foot tall).
The creative Brazilian shocked the football world when he signed for newly promoted Middlesborough in 1995, in an unlikely move akin to Neymar landing up at Hull City rather than Barcelona last summer.
He quickly became a hero at Boro and led the club, along with fellow Brazilians Emerson and Branco, to the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1997, although they lost in both. Their season went from bad to worse with Juninho reduced to tears when the club were relegated following a points deduction.
He reluctantly left Boro to pursue a place in Brazil’s 1998 World Cup squad but the Riverside remained in his heart and he returned, firstly on loan and then on a permanent transfer from Atletico Madrid in 2002.
He’d lost some of his sparkle but inspired the North-East club to the 2004 League Cup, a triumph he claimed meant more to him than winning the 2002 World Cup with Brazil.
Jurgen Klinnsman (Tottenham Hotspurs)
Like Juninho & Middlesbrough, Jurgen Klinnsman & Spurs and Paul Daniels & Debbie McGee some unlikely relationships are just meant to be.
The German arrived in London in 1994 as one of the leading strikers in world football but with an adverse reputation in English football, in no small part due to his reputation as one of the initial proponents of diving.
His impact on the Premier League was electric, however, scoring on his debut and celebrating with an ironic dive in front of his new adoring faithful. He scored 29 goals in his debut season and was rewarded with the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award.
To Spurs fans’ dismay he left for Bayern Munich after just one season with then Tottenham Chairman Alan Sugar claiming he wouldn’t use the striker’s shirt to wash his car with. All was forgiven, however, when he returned in 1997 on a season-long loan as his goals helped the London club stave off relegation.
It’s unlikely the relationship is finished with Klinnsman repeatedly linked with the manager’s job at White Hart Lane anytime Daniel Levy loses patience with a manager.