Arjen Robben's retirement lasted just a single season, as the Netherlands and Bayern Munich great announced on Saturday he is to return to boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign.

Robben, 36, brought an illustrious playing career to an end last July shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern came to an end.

Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben - who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career - opted to retire.

But now he looks set to return, not only to top-tier football, but at the place where it all began.

In honour of Robben's return to his first club, we identified some other high-profile players who went to finish their careers back home.

Juan Roman Riquelme - Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt - Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement two years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez - Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last year to focus on other areas of the sport.

Juan Pablo Angel - Atletico Nacional

Angel perhaps never quite lived up to the expectations he set during his early days as part of River Plate's so-called 'Fantastic Four' with Javier Saviola, Ariel Ortega and Pablo Aimar, having joined from Colombia's Nacional. Nevertheless, he became a fan favourite at Aston Villa in the Premier League, before spending six years in MLS with New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. In 2013 he returned to Nacional for two seasons, having left them in 1997. He called it quits in late 2014, just a few days after losing to his former club River in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. "I am ending my career with a final between the two clubs I love the most," he said.

Henrik Larsson - Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move to Helsingborgs. A trophy-laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez - Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Manchester United and Manchester City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca" was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL.

Mexico head coach Gerardo Martino says his season in charge of Barcelona was the worst of his career.

Martino took over at Camp Nou from Tito Vilanova in July 2013 and enjoyed a positive start, winning the Supercopa de Espana on away goals against Atletico Madrid.

Barca started the LaLiga season with a 7-0 thrashing of Levante before winning his first Clasico 2-1 at home to Real Madrid in October.

The season ended in disappointment, though, with Atletico pipping Barca to the title after holding them to a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou on the final day of the league season, having lost the Copa del Rey final to Real Madrid a month earlier.

Martino, who stepped down after the Atletico draw, says it was trying to get the best out of the squad while attempting to embrace their stylistic traditions that made life difficult.

"From the results side of things, it wasn't a bad year," he said, as quoted by Sport. "We won a trophy and we played in a final, but at Barcelona what matters is how many trophies you win.

"However, I say it was my worst year because my contribution as coach started and finished with the management of the team.

"There were concerns that my management had a short life and, for me, the Clasico against Real Madrid that we won 2-1 at home was key.

"We scored the second goal running into space and if Barcelona ran into space, it was because something did not fit together.

"But I understand that, if we could add anything to the team, it was not to deny the possibility of running.

"Speed was going to make Barcelona more complete because when there were lapses in the dominance of the opposition, it was good to go back and move into space. That was carried out the following year, with Luis Enrique."

Hugo Sánchez Márquez was a prolific goalscorer and between himself and Rafa Marquez, one must find themselves using the term ‘the greatest player Mexico has ever produced’. In 684 games between 1976 and 1997, Sanchez scored 400 goals, better than one in every two games. But he isn’t just regarded as one of, if not the greatest players Mexico has produced, he was one of the greatest of his generation. To this day, only three people have scored more goals in La Liga history than Sánchez, with some massive names in that list. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Telmo Zarra are the only players to have scored more. Sánchez played 58 times for Mexico, scoring 29 goals along the way, but was famous for the nature of some of those goals. It was not unusual for Sánchez to finish with a volley from some unlikely body positions. Diminutive, but athletic, Sanchez would even score headers above taller, stronger defenders, and had exquisite kicking technique that led to a powerful shot with very little warning.  

Playing Career

Full name: Hugo Sánchez Márquez (Hugo Sánchez)

Date of birth: 11 July 1958 (age 61)

Place of birth: Mexico City, Mexico

Height: 1.75m (5ft 9 in)

Playing position: Forward

Club Career

         Years           Team                             Apps      (Gls)

  • 1976–1981   UNAM                                 188      (97)
  • 1979–1980   San Diego Sockers (loan)       32      (26)
  • 1981–1985   Atlético Madrid                    111      (54)
  • 1985–1992   Real Madrid                        207     (164)
  • 1992–1993   América                               29     (11)
  • 1993–1994   Rayo Vallecano                     29     (16)
  • 1994–1995   Atlante                                 31     (13)
  • 1995–1996   Linz                                     20       (6)
  • 1996            Dallas Burn                          25     (11)
  • 1997            Atlético Celaya                     12       (2)
  • Total                                                   684    (400)

Club Honours

  • UNAM - Primera División: 1976–77, 1980–81; CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1980; Copa Interamericana: 1980
  • Atlético Madrid - Copa del Rey: 1984–85
  • Real Madrid - La Liga: 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90; Supercopa de España: 1988, 1989 , 1990; Copa del Rey: 1988–89; UEFA Cup: 1985–86
  • América - CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1992
  • Linz - First League: 1995–96

International Career

  • 1977-1994 Mexico 58 (29)

International Honours

  • Pan American Games: 1975
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup: 1977

Individual Honours

  • European Golden Shoe: 1990
  • La Liga top goalscorer: 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90
  • Don Balón Award – Best Foreign Player: 1986–87, 1989–90
  • Mexican Primera División top goalscorer: 1978–79
  • CONCACAF Champions' Cup top goalscorer: 1992
  • Best Sportist of Mexico of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Best footballer of Mexico of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Best footballer of CONCACAF of the 20th century
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2010
  • FIFA XI: 1982
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Marca Leyenda: 2018

Mexico boss Tata Martino is willing to negotiate a pay cut to help during the coronavirus pandemic and believes every coach and player should be ready to do so.

Martino acknowledged that he received his full wage for March and said he has not yet been contacted by the Mexico Football Federation about contingency measures.

However, the former Barcelona head coach – who has been in charge of Mexico since January 2019 – will have no qualms if he is asked to lower his pay.

"I haven't been contacted by the bosses from the federation and I got paid what I usually do in the month of March," Martino told TUDN in quotes reported by Marca. 

"If they call me and tell me that for April and until further notice they will readjust my salary to pay others, I would gladly accept it. Like I said before my compromise is to help others."

Martino feels that is a mindset that should be adopted more widely in football.

"We have to be supportive of the people that need the money the most and also we have to find ways to help them in their daily lives," he added. 

"I think every single player and coach should agree to reduce their salary because it is a solution to a problem. 

"Also each team needs to analyse the situation of each player differently because they are not making the money that Barcelona or Real Madrid players are making. 

"We are lucky we get paid high amount of money and that is why we need to be supportive."

There have been almost 1,500,000 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the globe. Over 82,000 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Ignacio Trelles Campos, who coached Mexico at three World Cups, has died at the age of 103.

Popularly known as 'Don Nacho', Trelles led Mexico in 117 international matches.

He coached Mexico in the 1958, 1962 and 1966 World Cup tournaments, FIFA said, and was also in charge of the team in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic football tournaments.

Trelles' death was announced by his former club Cruz Azul, whom he led to back-to-back Primera Division titles in 1978-79 and 1979-80.

In all, Trelles won seven Mexican league titles as a coach - a record - having also won three championships as a player.

His other coaching domestic title triumphs came with Marte de Morelos, Zacatepec and Toluca. Trelles took charge of 1,083 matches in the Primera Division.

On the World Cup stage, he was only able to enjoy one victory, when Mexico beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 in a group game at the 1962 finals, held in Chile.

Born on July 31, 1916, in Guadalajara, Trelles was remembered fondly on Wednesday.

Cruz Azul confirmed his death, announcing: "With great sadness, but likewise, pride in being part of this club, we would like to inform you that Don Ignacio Trelles was added to the 'Celestial Legends'."

The Mexican Football Federation said: "We join the grief that seizes the football family for the death of Ignacio Trelles, legend of Mexican soccer. Prompt condolences to family and friends. RIP."

CONCACAF, the confederation to which Mexico belongs, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Ignacio Trelles, who made a huge contribution to football in Mexico."

Cruz Azul said Trelles would have a private funeral due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mexico drubbed St. Kitts and Nevis 6-0 in Group B of the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Saturday at HEB Park in Edinburg, Texas on Saturday.

A loss to Mexico to kick off its campaign was not ideal for Jamaica's Reggae Girlz but the team's head coach Hubert Busby insists they remain in with a fighting chance.

Jamaica Reggae Girlz head coach Hubert Busby Jr has pointed out that the team is mathematically still in with a chance to qualify for the Olympics, despite a disappointing start to the campaign after a loss to Mexico.

In a competitive Group B, which also includes St Kitts and Nevis and Canada, and only two to qualify to the next round, the last thing the Jamaicans would have wanted was a 1-0 loss to begin their campaign.  Thanks to a goal from Mexico’s Renae Cuéllar, however, that is the scenario the team has found themselves in, with its upcoming game against highly-fancied eighth-ranked Canada already a must-win scenario.  In their opening encounter, Canada beat St Kitts and Nevis 11-0.

“Mathematically we are still in.  We have to win our next two games to advance and that’s where our preparation is right now,” Busby Jr told the SportsMax Zone.

One area in which the coach hopes there will be a dramatic improvement is in front of the goal. 

“Mexico had lots of possession, but they did not threaten us.  I thought we were organized and compact and hard to break down.  I think on the overall balance of the game we created more clear-cut opportunities and I think if we were sharper in front of goal we could have won the match,” he added.

The team’s talisman Khadijah Shaw crashed a powerful shot of the crossbar before Mexico took the lead and was denied again in the second half.  Group B continues play on Saturday, February 1 with Mexico playing Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early match at HEB Park.   Jamaica plays Canada in the later game.

 

The Jamaica Reggae Girlz kicked off their bid to qualify for the Olympics in disappointing fashion with a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the Women’s Qualifying Championship at HEB Park in Texas on Wednesday.

With only two teams allowed to qualify from the region, the loss was an early blow for the team looking to follow-up on their maiden appearance at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

The Jamaicans began the match the brighter of the two teams, but it was the Mexicans who seemed determined to make up for missing out on qualification for the last World Cup.

Despite dominant spells of possession, it was a set-piece that saw the Mexicans eventually take the lead.  In the 36th minute, after Kiana Palacios laid off for Renae Cuéllar in the area, she smartly steered home to finish beyond Sydney Schneider.  The Jamaicans had previously only narrowly missed out on taking the lead after talismanic striker Khadijah Shaw hit the crossbar in the 32nd minute from a tight angle.

The Jamaicans continued to hunt for the equalizer in the second half but were denied by quality saves from Mexican goalkeeper Emily Alvarado.  Group B continues play on Saturday, February 1 with Mexico playing Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early match at HEB Park.

 Saint Kitts and Nevis lost to Canada 11-0 earlier on Wednesday. Jamaica plays Canada in the later game in what’s now a must-win match for the Reggae Girlz.

Uriel Antuna's 93rd-minute winner secured a dramatic 2-1 victory for Mexico against Bermuda in their final CONCACAF Nations League group game.

Tuesday's clash had been petering out for a draw after Sebastian Cordova's stunning solo goal cancelled out Dante Leverock's shock opener in Toluca.

However, Antuna spared Mexico's blushes deep into stoppage time as El Tri made it four wins from four matches in Group B in League A.

Already assured of a semi-final spot, Mexico handed a debut to Luis Romo, while there were seven players in the starting XI with under 10 caps.

There was an early chance for Mexico, but the home side were made to pay for a lacklustre start against Bermuda.

After Hugo Gonzalez almost handed Bermuda the lead following a poor pass – Hector Moreno's desperate defending rescuing Mexico – the visitors broke the deadlock from the resulting corner.

Bermuda captain Leverock gave the minnows a shock lead in the 10th minute when he sprinted into the six-yard box and rose highest to bundle the ball over.

Cordova almost equalised three minutes later, however, his free-kick was pushed away by the diving Dale Eve, who was less than convincing in dealing with Jose Macias' long-range effort in the 24th minute.

Mexico eventually equalised approaching the half-hour mark, a moment of individual brilliance from Cordova restoring parity after the 22-year-old received the ball on the edge of the area, dummied and switched feet before firing a shot across goal and past Eve for his first international goal.

Some neat play almost saw Macias put Mexico ahead in the 38th minute but his side-footed effort looped just over the crossbar.

Bermuda threatened to restore their lead, but some more last-ditch defending prevented Mexico from falling behind again just past the hour-mark.

A diving Eve, meanwhile, was relieved to see Antuna's header fly past the post minutes later.

Gerardo Martino turned to Raul Jimenez for a goal and the Wolves star nearly delivered – his chested attempt from close-range saved by Eve with 14 minutes remaining – but Antuna stepped up at the death to secure all three points.

 

What does it mean? Improvement needed

Martino made changes for this fixture, handing chances to a host of players with their semi-final passage already sealed. While Mexico preserved their 100 per cent record, it was a sluggish display.

Cordova a shining light for Mexico

On a night Mexico failed to impress, Cordova further highlighted his growing quality. A maiden international goal capped a memorable outing for the America midfielder, who has been linked to Manchester United, Sevilla and Benfica.

Bermuda prove frustrating

Not much was expected of Bermuda, who were routed by Mexico 5-1 in the reverse fixture. But Bermuda deserve credit for their display away from home. Ranked 168th in the world, Bermuda were disciplined and threatening on the break.

What's next?

Mexico's international commitments have concluded for the year, with El Tri looking ahead to the 2020 Nations League semis. Bermuda will be hoping to bounce back next year.

Mexico moved into the CONCACAF Nations League semi-finals after a 3-0 win over Panama on Friday.

Raul Jimenez continued his goalscoring form at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez, netting a brace.

Jimenez needed just eight minutes to score in Panama City before wrapping up Mexico's victory from the penalty spot after he had set up Edson Alvarez.

It marked Mexico's third win in as many games in Group B of League A as Gerardo Martino's men joined Honduras in the semi-finals.

Panama almost took a shock lead, Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa making a low save to deny Gabriel Torres after an Alberto Quintero cross from the right.

However, Mexico opened the scoring as they dominated most of the first half.

In a move that started with Ochoa, Roberto Alvarado teed up Jimenez, who side-footed into the bottom corner from inside the area in the eighth minute.

Mexico had chances to double their lead in the opening 20 minutes, Alvarado and Jimenez squandering opportunities, the latter denied by Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon.

The visitors continued to push for a second and they found it with 20 minutes remaining through Alvarez.

After a set-piece was partly cleared, Jimenez curled in a beautiful cross from the right for Alvarez to tuck in from close range.

Mexico were awarded a late penalty after Anibal Mello brought down substitute Uriel Antuna as the attacker ran onto a long pass.

Jimenez stepped up to convert the penalty, completing his brace and wrapping up a deserved win for Mexico.

 

What does it mean? Semi-final spot booked

Mexico moved into the semi-finals courtesy of their latest win. In a group featuring Panama and Bermuda, there was never any real doubt for Mexico, who will surely be hoping tougher tests await.

Jimenez stays hot

The Wolves forward is in form for club and country. Jimenez has now scored in six of his past seven games since mid-October, good signs for both Mexico and the Premier League club.

Is Nations League pointless for Mexico?

Mexico may be left wondering exactly what they can get out of the Nations League. Competitive against South American nations, Martino's men have been left to play both Panama and Bermuda twice due to the introduction of the Nations League in CONCACAF, rather than testing themselves against bigger countries.

What's next?

Mexico finish their group-stage campaign at home to Bermuda on Tuesday, while Panama will next be in action in 2020.

Mexico overcame a spirited Panama side 3-1 to remain perfect in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Panama had frustrated an initially dominant Mexico team after Carlos Salcedo's 42nd-minute own goal cancelled out Roberto Alvarado's opener on Tuesday.

However, Jose Juan Macias came off the bench to restore Mexico's lead 15 minutes from the end and Rodolfo Pizarro made sure of the win in the second minute of stoppage time in the Group B clash.

Mexico, who crushed Bermuda 5-1 in their Nations League opener, controlled proceedings from the outset against Panama at Estadio Azteca.

El Tri put the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute after Carlos Rodriguez's shot was parried into the path of Hirving Lozano but it was ruled out for offside.

Lozano was in the thick of the action again as he rattled the crossbar with a ferocious long-range attempt four minutes later.

Mexico did get their goal a minute later, when Alvarado curled a shot past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.

After Lozano flashed a shot wide of the post approaching the interval, Panama equalised against the run of black with three minutes remaining prior to half-time.

The sliding Salcedo attempted to block a cross into the six-yard box, but the Mexico defender unfortunately turned the ball into his own net.

Panama surged forward and almost took a 53rd-minute lead as Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino stood tall to deny Jose Rodriguez.

The lively Lozano was forced from the field with a foot injury in a huge blow for Mexico and Napoli after the hour.

But Mexico eased the tension within the stadium as the spirited Panama side came unstuck in the 75th minute after Macias received the ball on the edge of the area and fired a shot through the hands of Mejia, while Pizarro sealed the points in the 92nd minute with a shot into the top corner.

 

What does it mean? El Tri stay top

It was not straightforward, but Mexico made it two wins from two matches in Group B on Tuesday. The home side did not have it their own way, though they now find themselves three points clear.

Napoli left sweating over Lozano

Serie A title hopefuls Napoli will be praying Lozano's injury is not too serious. The Mexico star was carried off the field on a stretcher with 24 minutes remaining due to an ankle injury.

Panama impress away from home

Not much was expected from Panama, who had only won three of their previous 20 games. However, the visitors were great value after recovering from an early deficit, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

What's next?

Mexico and Panama will do battle again on November 15, with the latter welcoming El Tri to their country.

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