Homecomings are a rare occurrence in world football. Typically, it requires a player or manager to have unresolved business at the club, and they must have previously left the club on good terms. Egos and tempers are very fragile in soccer, and when it comes to a parting of the ways between a player and a club, bridges can be burned on both sides. However, when the circumstances are correct and a return is possible, it can be an extremely rewarding situation for all of the parties involved.
Several clubs have used this as a strategy in their current campaigns, and it’s been mostly successful so far. Chelsea has risen to the top of the Premier League thanks in large part to the contributions of Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba. Atletico Madrid allowed for the return of the long lost Fernando Torres to his childhood club. Torres played nearly a full hour of Atleti’s 2-0 win over rivals and the hottest team in the world, Real Madrid. The power of a homecoming is already quite visible this season.
Over the history of soccer, not all homecomings have been successful and some have had disastrous results for the parties involved. Generally the boost that it gives to a club and their fans are enough to make most reuniting cases a success. Homecomings give a nice symmetry to a player’s career, can atone for a club’s poor handling of a previous situation, and are generally viewed in a positive light by the media. Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again,” but these players and managers have proved that you certainly can in soccer.
15 Fernando Torres to Atletico Madrid
14 Nemanja Matic to Chelsea
13 Didier Drogba to Chelsea
12 Kaka to Milan
11 Juan Roman Riquelme to Boca Juniors
10 Diego Maradona to Boca Juniors
9 Jurgen Klinsmann to Tottenham
8 Jermain Defoe to Tottenham
7 Thierry Henry to Arsenal
6 Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund
5 Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona
4 Robbie Fowler to Liverpool
3 Henrik Larsson to Helsingborgs
2 Gerard Pique to Barcelona
1 Jose Mourinho to Chelsea
Hiring Jose Mourinho was the smartest move that Roman Abramovich ever made regarding Chelsea. When the duo was first united in 2004, Mourinho immediately impacted the club securing the transfer of legends like Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho, and Paolo Ferreira. He helped them win two English Premier League titles before falling out of favor with Abramovich over several disagreements in 2007. The two rebuilt their relationship in 2013, and Jose was hired for another tenure with the Blues. He immediately set about rebuilding the squad to his style and it has shown to be extremely beneficial, with Chelsea currently challenging for titles in four competitions.
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