Legends who returned to their former clubs including Cristiano Ronaldo's Man Utd comeback and Thierry Henry to Arsenal | The Sun

A NUMBER of fan favourites and club legends have returned for second spells at their former teams in the past.

Whether it be for a final hurrah or to honour an old promise, supporters love to see an icon return home one last time.

Amongst those to have returned to their former clubs in recent years are Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.

The pair headed back to Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively, to a hero's welcome from fans.

Here, SunSport checks out six footballers who have returned to their old teams as legends.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

Having been signed as a skinny 18-year-old from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, Ronaldo was moulded into a prolific goalscorer and Ballon d’Or winner by Sir Alex Ferguson.



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By the time his first spell at United ended in 2009, he had won his first Ballon d’Or and scored 84 Premier League goals.

His performances earned Ronaldo a then world record £80million move to Real Madrid, where he would win four more Ballon d’Ors and score a staggering 450 goals.

Following three years in Italy with Juventus, Ronaldo was again on the market in 2021, with Manchester City reportedly close to securing his signature.

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Ronaldo developed from a skinny winger to a prolific goalscorer at UnitedCredit: Getty
By the time he left in 2009, Ronaldo had won the Ballon d'Or and Champions LeagueCredit: Getty

However, at the eleventh hour, United swooped to snatch their former player from under their rivals noses to the delight of their supporters.

A brace on his comeback against Newcastle set the tone for a strong personal season as Ronaldo bagged 24 goals across all competitions.

Following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan, the veteran forward left Old Trafford for a second time in November 2022.

Thierry Henry – Arsenal

Henry developed from a raw, left winger into a world-class striker during his initial eight-year spell at Arsenal.

The Frenchman scored 226 goals for the Gunners before heading to Spain and signing for Barcelona in 2007.

He spent three years in La Liga, scoring 35 goals in 80 appearances before joining the New York Red Bulls in the MLS.

But he would later be handed the chance to return to where it all began for a month-long loan spell with Arsenal in 2012.

Supporters could not believe their eyes when they saw the news Henry would be wearing the famous red and white again.

The highlight of his return came on his first appearance back in North London, coming off the bench against Leeds to score the winner in the FA Cup third round.

He also repeated the feat against Sunderland in his final match for Arsenal.

Didier Drogba – Chelsea

Few fans would have suggested Didier Drogba would become a Chelsea legend when he joined the club for £24million in 2004.

However, he would cement his place in Blues folklore by scoring the winning penalty against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final eight years later.

That spot-kick came after he had earlier headed his side level with an 88th minute equaliser.

He would leave Stamford Bridge after the final, going on to have spells with Galatasaray and Shanghai Shenhua before returning to West London two years later.

Drogba spent much of the 2014/15 season as cover for Diego Costa and by the end of the campaign he had announced he would be leaving again.

During his farewell match on the final day against Sunderland, the striker was carried off by his team-mates after being substituted in the 30th minute.

Across his two spells with Chelsea, Drogba scored a total of 164 goals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – AC Milan

Despite playing for nine clubs during his illustrious career, there is nowhere Zlatan Ibrahimovic is more fondly remembered than AC Milan.

The ex-Sweden striker first starred for the Italian giants on loan from Barcelona for the 2010/11 season before making his move permanent.

He followed the Serie A title in that campaign with 28 league goals to win the golden boot before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.

Ibrahimovic would remain one of the world’s best players during his time in France before spells at United and LA Galaxy.

He would return to Milan to end his career, though, signing for the Rossoneri in January 2020 aged 38.

Before retiring in 2023, Ibrahimovic was able to inspire Milan to their first Scudetto since the 2011 triumph as they pipped city rivals Inter to the title in 2022.

Sergio Ramos – Sevilla

Sergio Ramos progressed through Sevilla’s academy before breaking into the first-team in 2004 aged 18.

As a teenager, he made 49 appearances for the club as they equalled their highest La Liga finish for a decade.

Ramos’ displays caught the attention of Real Madrid, who would swoop to steal him away from his hometown club.

Across 16 years in the Spanish capital, the defender made 671 appearances and won 22 major trophies, including the Champions League four times.

The World Cup winner headed to France for two seasons before making an emotional return to Sevilla at 37 in 2023, signing a one-year deal almost two decades on from his last appearance.

Joe Cole – West Ham

Like Ramos, Joe Cole returned to the club where his career began after coming through West Ham’s fabled youth system.

After five years in the first team, he was sold to Chelsea in 2003 following the Hammers’ relegation from the Premier League.

The midfielder won three league titles at Stamford Bridge before turning out for Liverpool and Lille between 2010 and 2013.

When the time came to leave Anfield, though, he opted to return to East London and signed for West Ham halfway through the 2012/13 season.

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Across the next 18 months, Cole scored five goals in 31 league appearances as the Hammers consolidated their place back in the top flight.

Although he would leave for Aston Villa in 2014, Cole is still highly regarded by West Ham supporters.

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