Man United’s Paul Scholes follows in Zinedine Zidane’s footsteps

Manchester United's Paul Scholes joins a group of illustrious names to have come out of retirement, including Zinedine Zidane

paul scholes
Paul Scholes was a substitute during Man United's 3-2 victory over Man City Photo: TIAGD, via Flickr

paul scholes

Paul Scholes helped Manchester United overcome fierce rivals Manchester City in a thrilling 3-2 victory in the FA Cup third round after coming out of retirement to play for the Red Devils until the end of the season.

The 37-year-old midfielder isn’t the first sports star to seal a comeback against the odds. Here are The Sport Review’s selection of five other sporting returns.

Zinedine Zidane

After Bixente Lizarazu, Marcel Desailly, Claude Makélélé and Lilian Thuram all hung up their boots for France, then manager Raymond Domenech pleaded with Zinedine Zidane to come out of international retirement in August 2005 with the national side’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup in doubt. The Real Madrid midfielder obliged, taking over the captaincy and inspiring Les Bleus back from fourth spot to win their group and book their place in Germany. At the tournament, Zidane scored against Spain in the group stages and was named man of the match in their quarter-final victory over Brazil – and in the semis, Zidane’s decisive penalty knocked out Portugal. Facing Italy in the final, Zidane handed France a seventh-minute lead before his tournament ended in disgrace, when he was sent-off for head-butt on Marco Materazzi before France lost on penalties. Despite a disappointing end, Zidane still received the Golden Ball award for the World Cup’s best player.

Sir Steve Redgrave

After winning his fourth gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Sir Steve Redgrave famously gave permission to the British public to “shoot him” if he was ever spotted near a rowing boat again. The English rower had battled numerous illnesses during his career, including ulcerative colitis and diabetes. However, the lure of Sydney in 2000 proved too much for Redgrave and he made a return to training, balancing diabetes with his demanding schedule. At the Games, alongside James Cracknell, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent, a 38-year-old Redgrave won the coxless fours and collected gold for the fifth consecutive Olympics.

Kim Clijsters

After many years of talking about retiring from tennis, Kim Clisjters finally decided to call time on her career in 2007. The then one-time Grand Slam champion cited injuries as the main reason for her decision but the Belgian star decided to make a return just two years later after the birth of her daughter. Clijsters received a wildcard enabling her compete at the US Open and the ‘Supermom’ defeated both Williams sisters on the way to reaching the final and capped a remarkable comeback by beating the ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-3 to win at Flushing Meadows for the second time. The current world No13 added another US Open title a year later and won the Australian Open in 2011.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher quit Formula 1 in 2006, leading many to describe the German as the greatest F1 driver of all time. The seven-time world champion almost made a return to the sport less than three years later after Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was seriously injured in a crash but a neck problem ruled Schumacher out of a return. However, in 2010 he finally made his comeback after joining new team Mercedes GP, teaming up with his compatriot Nico Rosberg. The 43-year-old finished in a respectable eighth and ninth position in the 2010 and 2011 drivers’ standings.

Jens Lehmann

Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann came on as a second-half substitute to make what he thought was his final Arsenal appearance during their 1-0 victory against Everton in May 2008 and the German received a standing ovation from the Gunners supporters. Later that summer, the goalkeeper joined Stuttgart and after two seasons in the Bundesliga he hung up his boots. But in March 2011, an injury crisis left Arsenal with just one fit shot-stopper in the form of Manuel Almunia, with Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone all unavailable. Lehmann agreed to come out of retirement and signed a rolling contract at the Emirates. The 42-year-old became the oldest Arsenal player to feature in the Premier League as he made his 200th appearance in the Gunners’ 3-1 victory at Blackpool.

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