Arjen Robben reluctantly retires for second time

Arjen Robben in action for Netherlands

Former Chelsea and Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben has reluctantly retired for a second time.

The 37-year-old originally called time on his professional career in 2019 before he made a surprise return to the game last summer to play for boyhood club Groningen.

An injury-hit campaign saw Robben only able to feature seven times in the Eredivisie last term and he has now confirmed plans to retire again.

“Dear football friends, I have decided to stop my active football career,” the former Netherlands forward posted on Twitter.

“A very difficult choice. I want to thank everyone for all the heartwarming support!”

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Robben won a plethora of trophies during a glittering career which started at Groningen in 2000 before he enjoyed spells with PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

A league winner in Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany, the winger also won the Champions League in 2013 and made 96 appearances for his country.

The Netherlands international was part of the Dutch team which finished runners-up at the 2010 World Cup and placed third at the tournament in Brazil four years later.

Groningen technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus told the official club website: “It was common knowledge that we really wanted Arjen to stick with it for another year, but we also said that we appreciate and respect every decision made by him.

“We have offered him to remain active in a role within the club, in whatever position. Arjen has indicated that he first wants to spend a holiday with his family and to take a break from football.

“After that, there will undoubtedly come a time when we sit down at the table again.

“In addition, we do not want to let the end of his active football career go without recognition and we will look at a moment when supporters and sponsors of the club can say goodbye to Robben as a player in our stadium.”

Robben added on FC Groningen’s YouTube channel: “Obviously I had a lot of conversations about this and we always got to the same conclusion in the end.

“My football heart still wants to continue. That is also the reason why I am sorry. But at some point you have to be realistic.

“It is a battle between the emotional and the rational. And then you have to make a smart decision, which I hope I did. But I can not say I am very happy to make this decision.”

Chelsea later gave their best wishes to their former player, who played for the club from 2004 until 2007.

The Blues said on Twitter: “Enjoy your retirement, @ArjenRobben! What a player.”

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