Toni Kroos and Top 8 Players Who Came Out of International Retirement

Toni Kroos and Top 8 Players Who Came Out of International Retirement

Isaac Darko
updated at February 22, 2024 at 6:51 PM
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T. Kroos
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  • Toni Kroos has finally decided to come out of international retirement
  • He has joined a list of stars who returned to their national team after retiring
  • Here are top players who made a comeback after retiring from international duty

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has ended his retirement from international football to represent Euro 2024 hosts Germany.

The 34-year-old was a key member of the 2014 World Cup-winning German national team and boasts 106 caps for Die Mannschaft.

After retiring in July 2021, Kroos has reversed his decision following discussions with Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Lionel Messi, Toni Kroos and Zinedine Zidane are among stars who came out of international retirement.
Lionel Messi, Toni Kroos and Zinedine Zidane are among the stars who came out of international retirement. Photos by Ira L. Black/John Walton/Jose Breton
Source: Getty Images

He is now eligible for selection in Nagelsmann's squad for upcoming international friendlies against France and the Netherlands.

Throughout history, numerous players have chosen to retire early from international football, either to make way for younger talents or to catalyze change within the team.

However, certain players have subsequently returned to serve their nation, often due to personal conviction or pressure from fans.

Sports Brief examines eight top players who made a comeback after retiring from international duty.

Players who came out of retirement

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Regarded as the greatest of all time by fans and experts worldwide, Leo Messi initially announced his retirement from international football following Argentina's defeat in the Copa America final against Chile in 2016. However, in response to fervent pleas from fans, he made a triumphant return to lead the Albiceleste.

His comeback proved monumental as Messi emerged as the top scorer in Argentina's victorious campaign in the coveted South American tournament in 2021, finally laying to rest the ghosts of past disappointments.

In what may have been his last opportunity to clinch the ultimate prize, Messi played a pivotal role in guiding Argentina to their third World Cup title.

Throughout the tournament, Messi showcased his brilliance by scoring seven goals in seven games, with his only blank coming against Poland.

His standout performance culminated in a brace in the final against France, a thrilling match decided by penalties. This remarkable achievement not only marked a spectacular end to Messi's football journey but also stands as one of the most remarkable U-turns in sporting history.

Zinedine Zidane (France)

Zidane initially retired alongside players like Lilian Thuram, Claude Makelele, and others. However, coach Raymond Domenech persuaded him to come out of retirement and lead the French squad in the 2006 World Cup.

The Ballon D’Or winner delivered a remarkable performance during the tournament in Germany, guiding the team to the finals. The climax of the final became infamous due to Zidane's headbutt, which resulted in a red card for him.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

The Italian goalkeeping icon appears timeless as ever. Holding the record for the most caps as an Italian international, he served as a stalwart defender of Italy's goal for two decades, from 1997 to 2018.

Despite announcing his retirement in 2017, he made a comeback in 2018, featuring in international friendlies against England and Argentina. His return was fueled by a sense of duty and a tribute to David Astori.

Wayne Rooney (England)

Wayne Rooney, England's second-most-capped player and joint top scorer, enjoyed a remarkable career spanning both club and country. In 2017, he announced his retirement from international football.

However, he made a poignant return to the pitch, not for a competitive match, but for a charity game. This special match marked his 120th and final appearance in the England jersey, held between USA and England in support of the Wayne Rooney Foundation International.

Michel Platini (France)

The French icon stands as one of the finest players ever produced by France. Despite announcing his retirement from the French national team in 1987, he made a surprising return to the international scene, this time representing Kuwait on the global stage.

Responding to a request from Kuwait’s Emir, Platini donned the Kuwaiti jersey in a match against the Soviet Union.

George Weah (Liberia)

The former footballer, who later became the President of Liberia, stood out as one of the premier players in the global football arena. Transitioning from his football career to politics, he ascended to the presidency in his homeland of Liberia.

Despite retiring from professional football, Weah made a surprising return to the pitch at the age of 51. In a remarkable display, he participated in a special friendly match against Nigeria while serving as the nation's President.

Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands)

The iconic Dutch goalkeeper holds the distinction of being the second most capped player in Netherlands football history. During a radio interview, he revealed his intention to retire following EURO 2008.

However, under pressure from coach Bert van Marwijk, he extended his career to participate in the 2010 World Cup qualifications. This decision stemmed from the unavailability of the remaining goalkeepers, both of whom were injured.

Roy Keane (Republic of Ireland)

Roy Keane clashed with Irish national team coach Mick McCarthy, leading to escalating tensions.

Matters worsened when Keane conducted an interview criticizing the team's morale and the conditions of the Irish camp.

Following a heated argument with McCarthy, Keane was suspended and sent home from the squad. He would later return to the camp in 2004, but only after McCarthy's resignation.

However, some fans have criticized Keane for prioritizing Manchester United's interests over those of the national team.

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Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is a La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga editor at Sports Brief with a Degree in Journalism and Communications from Ghana Institute of Journalism (2010)