So Good They Signed Him Twice: The Premier League’s Returning Legends

Tom Dunstan

They say that a legend should never return to his old club, it can only tarnish their legacy. But, in the case of some Premier League legends, the grass hasn’t always been greener on the other side and they’ve decided that maybe a move back home is the best idea.

Robbie Fowler (Liverpool 1993-2001 and 2006-2007)

A genuine Liverpool legend, the fact that Fowler was nicknamed ‘God’ during his first spell on Merseyside tells you everything about the esteem in which Liverpool hold him.

Fowler made an instant impact at Anfield, he would score 30 plus goals in all competitions in three of his first four seasons. Although he may have been a fan favourite, he was not a favourite with new boss Gerard Houllier and after picking up a serious injury, he was offloaded to Leeds in 2001 for £12million, Liverpool fans were not happy.

After spells with Leeds and Manchester City, Fowler made his return after he was announced as a shock signing by Rafa Benitez in 2006. Even knowing that his second spell with Liverpool wouldn’t see him be the pivotal figure he once was, Fowler was just happy to be back at home.

Despite being a bit-part player, Fowler managed to score 12 more times and take his Liverpool tally to 183 goals and even managed to take over King Kenny in their goalscoring records.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player quite so happy to be joining a club before.”

– Rafa Benitez

Didier Drogba (Chelsea 2004-2012 and 2014-2015)

Undoubtedly no one on this list had a more emotional farewell than Didier Drogba. After scoring the decisive penalty to win Chelsea the Champions League in 2012, it seemed like the perfect time for the Chelsea legend to bow out of Stamford Bridge.

Unsurprisingly, there was no contract extension for the Ivorian king and Drogba made his way to China and then Turkey, it looked like the striker was winding down an already accomplished career.

Then, much like Fowler’s return to Liverpool, it was a shock. After answering the call from Jose Mourinho, Drogba made his return to Chelsea, only two years after not be rewarded an extension, he was now 36. During his one season return, Drogba made over 40 appearances in all competitions, although he only scored seven times, he helped Chelsea and himself to another Premier League title.

Ian Rush (Liverpool 1980-1986 and 1988-1996)

Another returning Liverpool legend, and Anfield, still to this day, haven’t found a more prolific goalscorer than Ian Rush. Although it may have taken him a season to find his feet, in 1981 manager Bob Paisley urged the Welshman to be more selfish and boy did he take that advice. Over his next six seasons in red, Rush scored over 200 goals.

During the first half of his Liverpool career, Rush collected four league titles, one European Cup, an FA Cup medal and three League Cup trophies, before deciding it was a perfect time to move to Italian giants Juventus. After scoring 14 goals during his two years in the tough environment of Serie A, Rush returned to Liverpool for a then-club record fee of £2.7million.

On his return, Rush proved he hadn’t lost his touch, scoring another 139 times for Liverpool he added a further league title, FA Cup and League Cup to his glittering resume. Rush still remains Liverpool’s all-time leading goalscorer, a staggering 61 goals ahead of second place.

Peter Crouch (Tottenham 1998-2000 and 2009 -2011 & Portsmouth 2001-2002 and 2008-2009)

The man who can rival Niko Kranjcar as possibly Harry Redknapp’s favourite player. They say a player should never go back, unless you’re Peter Crouch, then you always go back.

Originally starting off his career with Tottenham in 1998, Crouchy didn’t manage to make a single appearance before he was sold to QPR for £60,000 and the 6ft 7in man began his career as a Premier League journeyman.

Following spells with Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Norwich, Southampton and Liverpool, Crouch eventually returned to White Hart Lane in 2009, signing a five-year deal with his boyhood club, costing Tottenham almost £10million. Although he would only go on to score 12 times for Spurs, he is still fondly remembered by the white half of north London.

As for his legacy at Portsmouth, Crouch joined Pompey in 2001 following QPR’s relegation. He didn’t last long in Hampshire, after scoring 18 goals at Fratton Park in his first season, Crouch earned a £15m switch to Aston Villa a year later. He was back at Pompey in 2008, however, in a deal worth twice as much as they’d originally sold him for. Crouch scored 11 goals in 38 league appearances before departing… for Tottenham, of course.

Thierry Henry (Arsenal 1999-2007 and 2012)

Thierry Henry has gone down in both Arsenal and Premier League history as arguably its greatest foreign import. After arriving from Juventus in 1999, Henry would go on to cement himself as a genuine Premier League legend. The Frenchman would score over 200 goals and fired the Gunners to two Premier League titles and three FA Cup wins in his first spell with the club. His performances even earned him a statue outside the Emirates.

After a five-year absence from north London with Barcelona and two years in New York, there was much excitement among the Gooners when Arsene Wenger announced that Henry would be returning on a two-month loan spell in January 2012.

Although Thierry didn’t feature too much, when he was on the pitch, Henry carried on pretty much where he left off, on his second debut he scored the only goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup win over Leeds. He still remains Arsenal’s leading record goalscorer, scoring 228 goals.

Wayne Rooney (Everton 2002-2004 and 2017 – Current)

The latest man to join the list of returning legends. It’s hard to believe that we are now 15 years on from a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney bursting on to the scene with that goal against Arsenal. After two years at Goodison, Rooney had gained the tag as the best young player in England. Despite being an ever present in the Everton side and becoming one of world football’s highest paid teenagers, Manchester United forked up £27million and well, the rest is history.

After 13 successful years at Old Trafford, we really have watched Rooney blossom from a talented youngster to the international and domestic record-breaker he is today. Manchester United’s record goalscorer, England’s record goalscorer, Rooney has cemented himself as an English legend.

But, after picking up 16 major trophies, last season Rooney knew his time at Old Trafford was coming to an end, and there was only one place he wanted to go.

In July of this year, Rooney returned and he is already giving Everton plenty to cheer about. Already scoring crucial goals to pick up points against Manchester City and Stoke, Rooney looks to be fitting right back in at Goodison.

Mark Hughes (Manchester United 1980-1986 and 1988-1995)

Mark Hughes’ two spells at Old Trafford were much like Ian Rush’s career at Liverpool, Hughes also spent time abroad with some of Europe’s biggest teams. Although he arrived in Manchester in 1980, Hughes did not make his first-team debut until 1983. Despite having talent ahead of him, he established himself in the United first team and scored 62 goals in three seasons. So, his £2million exit to Barcelona in 1986 came as a surprise to many.

Even though he spent time representing the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Hughes was never able to replicate the form he found at Old Trafford. After scoring only 10 goals during his two seasons abroad, Alex Ferguson still paid £1.8million for his return, a club record for United at the time.

He made his return in 1988 and Hughes went on to score another 83 goals in his seven years under Alex Ferguson, winning two Premier League titles, two FA Cups as well as the League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup. During this second stint, Hughes also became the first Manchester United man to win the PFA Player of the Year award.

Teddy Sheringham (Tottenham 1992-1997 and 2001-2003)

Teddy Sheringham is the definition of a centre forward who hit the ground running. In the Premier League’s and Teddy’s inaugural season, he won the Golden Boot recording his highest tally of 22 goals. Even being one of the Premier League’s top marksmen, a major trophy continued to elude Sheringham and in 1997, Manchester United came knocking.

After four successful seasons at Old Trafford epitomised by his heroics to win Manchester United the Champions League in 1999, four years and seven major trophies later, Sheringham returned to White Hart Lane in 2001.

During his second spell in north London, Sheringham might have lost some of his magic, but he still had a trick or two, he added another 22 goals to his tally and was frequently used as Tottenham’s captain.

Joe Cole (West Ham United 1998-2003 and 2013-2014)

In an era that saw West Ham’s Academy produce future stars such as Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick, one man outshone them all.

Making his debut at the age of 17 and captaining the side at 21, Cole was undoubtedly West Ham’s star man and it was only a matter of time till the big teams came sniffing. As expected, in 2003 Cole moved to Chelsea who had just been injected with Roman Abramovich’s cash, for Cole’s career, it was a good move, West Ham were relegated that season and Cole would go on to win three Premier League titles.

After picking up a serious knee injury Cole was unable to cement a place at Chelsea or during his time at Liverpool. a decade after his final appearance in claret and blue, Cole returned home. Although it was far from a fairytale return, after a Man of the Match performance on his second debut, he failed to make any more of an impact. But, unlike some West Ham old boys, he is still adored in East London.

Jermain Defoe (Tottenham 2004-2008 and 2009-2014)

Now aged 34, Jermain Defoe is still doing what he does best, scoring goals. By the age of 21, Defoe had already found the net over 40 times and he’s goalscoring talents weren’t going unnoticed. In 2004, following West Ham’s relegation, Defoe refused to sign a new contract and was sold to Tottenham, leaving West Ham fans very unamused.

After arriving at White Hart Lane for £6million, the England international would enjoy four years in north London and quickly became a fan favourite, picking up Spurs’ Player of the Year in his first season. During his first spell with Tottenham, Defoe scored 43 times before moving down the East Coast to join Portsmouth, it turned out to be more of a little holiday tho.

After just 12 months away Defoe must have been missing London, in 2009 after only one season with Pompey, Jermain was on his way back to White Hart Lane, but this time he cost Spurs almost triple what they sold him for. It turned out to be a good investment tho, during his second spell in white he scored more prolifically than in his first.

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