Lists

10 player homecomings that lived up to the hype, as Tim Cahill re-signs with Millwall

Tim Cahill Millwall
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8. Johan Cruyff (Ajax)

Years between departure and return: 7

Ajax legend Cruyff burst onto the scene at the age of 17 and casually collected six Eredivisie titles, five KNVB Cups and three consecutive European Cups during his first spell in Amsterdam. Barcelona came calling in 1973 and Cruyff won La Liga in his first season. After leaving the Camp Nou (and following a short-lived retirement), he spent time in the USA with Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats, before returning to Spain for a brief stint with Levante.

His heralded return to Ajax in 1981 was successful, as Cruyff added two more Eredivisie winner's medals to his collection. Ending his career at his boyhood club seemed an inevitability, but the Dutchman was inexplicably allowed to leave, then join arch-rivals Feyenoord for his final season as a professional in 1983/84. Feyenoord went on to win a league and cup double, naturally.

Johan Cruyff

Cruyff the player left Ajax for the final time in 1983

9. Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes)

Years between departure and return: 10

The acclaimed Argentine playmaker had disappointing spells for Manchester United and Chelsea during a six-year stay in the Premier League, between 2001 and 2007. Yet his career began at Estudiantes back in 1994, before he left the club for a season at Boca Juniors, then made his name in Serie A. Veron would have to wait more than 10 years before returning to Estudiantes, initially on loan from Chelsea (because who hasn’t been loaned out by Chelsea?) before making the move permanent in 2007. 

Veron loved them so much that, after leaving again in 2012 - this time for Brandsen - he changed his mind and re-joined a year later. It proved to be a wise decision: the midfielder won the Apertura tournament in 2006 and 2010, as well as the 2009 Copa Libertadores. At the grand old age of 42, Veron made another comeback in 2017, playing five times for Estudiantes in the Libertadores.

Juan Sebastian Veron

Veron has had several spells as an Estudiantes player

10. Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla)

Years between departure and return: 8

A rising star of Spanish football, Reyes left Sevilla for Arsenal in 2004, making a bright start to his career in north London before his form faltered. Despite being in the considerable shadow of Thierry Henry, the winger still netted 23 times in 110 games for the Gunners, while winning a Premier League and FA Cup.

He would later return to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan after spells with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Benfica, and went on to play a part in Sevilla's hat-trick of Europa League triumphs from 2014 to 2016. On his quest to play for every side in Spain, Reyes is currently on the books at Espanyol, having helped them to an eighth-place finish in La Liga in 2016/17.

Jose Antonio Reyes

Reyes won another Europa League crown in his final year in Seville

One that got away: Robbie Fowler (Liverpool)

Years between departure and return: 5

It looked like it was written in the stars for Robbie Fowler, who returned to Liverpool in 2006 after five years away. His emphatic bicycle kick against Birmingham in 2006 had Anfield going crazy and would have won the Reds the game - had he been onside. Couldn’t the officials have just let it slide for the sake of a great story?

Either way, Fowler was only able to score 12 goals in 39 appearances before leaving for Cardiff in 2007. However, that at least took his over total of Liverpool goals up to 183 across the two spells and God – as Kopites refer to him – will remain a legend at Liverpool forever.

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