Rooney, Zidane & players who came out of international retirement

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The Toffees legend joins a number of world-class footballers who have returned to their national sides after initially retiring

England and Everton veteran Wayne Rooney recently announced his decision to come out of international retirement for a one-off special charity match against the U.S. National Team – but the Three Lions' all-time record goalscorer isn't the first player to have reversed his decision and feature for his country again.

  1. #1 Wayne Rooney | England, 2018

    The 33-year-old announced his retirement from England in August 2017, having last played for his national side in November 2016 – but recently confirmed that he will put on the Three Lions shirt one more time for a charity friendly against the U.S. National Team on November 15.

    The match will look to raise funds for Rooney's charity, the Wayne Rooney Foundation, and other foundations such as children's organisation NSPCC.

    Rooney remains to be England's most-capped outfield player and second overrall behind goalkeeper Peter Shilton, with caps 119 for the national side and 53 goals.

  2. #2 Zinedine Zidane | France, 2005

    Zidane captained his France side to the final of the 2006 World Cup and won the tournament's Golden Ball award, but Les Bleus' fate could have been very different.

    Following the mass retirement of key players in Bixente Lizarazu, Marcel Desailly, Claude Makelele, Lilian Thuram and Zidane, France stuggled to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

    After being persuaded by coach Raymond Domenech, Zidane came out of retirement to lead his side to the final of the tournament.

  3. #3 Lionel Messi | Argentina, 2016

    Messi first announced his retirement from the Argentina side following his side's loss of the Copa America final in 2016, though reversed his decision shortly after fans begged for him to return to the team.

    The Barcelona star was responsible for the hat-trick against Ecuador that secured Argentina's place in the 2018 World Cup, but ultimately had a disappointing summer in Russia after scoring just one goal and crashing out at the last 16 stage to eventual champions France.

    Following Argentina's exit from the World Cup, Messi has not been involved with the Argentina squad for recent friendly fixtures and has remained coy about his future participation, with head coach Lionel Scaloni also admitting that he is not sure when the 31-year-old will next feature for the team.

  4. #4 Henrik Larsson | Sweden, 2002 & 2004

    The former Celtic star represented his side in three World Cups and three European Championships, during which time he pulled out of international retirement not once, but twice.

    The Swede announced his withdrawal from international duty after leading his team to the knockout stages of the 2002 World Cup, before representing his side at the 2004 Euros.

    After his participation at the 2006 World Cup, he made the decision to quit from international duty once again – only to return for the 2008 European Championships.

  5. #5 Claude Makelele | France, 2005

    Makelele retired from the France team in 2004 as part of the mass exodus within Les Bleus, but returned to the side in 2005 along with Zidane and Thuram to help the side who were struggling to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

    The defensive midfielder's involvement was crucial during France's run to the final, his partnership with Patrick Viera allowing France to concede only three times in seven games.

    Despite his intentions to retire once again following the end of the World Cup, he was involved for the 2008 Euro qualification games – though announced his exit once again following his side's elimination from the competition.

  6. #6 Gianluigi Buffon | Italy, 2018

    Despite Gigi Buffon's initial decision to retire in November 2017, he was called up for Italy's friendlies against Argentina and England in March 2018 by caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio.

    The Italy legend stated that he felt it was his sense of responsibility that convinced him to feature for Italy once again, and also stated that he did so for Davide Astori, a former international team-mate who had recently died of a heart attack

    Buffon started in goal for Italy for the 176th time in the friendly against Argentina, surpassing Fabio Cannavaro to become the record appearance holder as Italy captain (80). After the game, however, he stated that he did not plan to be part of the Italy squad again.

  7. #7 Jamie Carragher | England, 2010

    The former Liverpool vice-captain was persuaded to come out of international retirement for the 2010 World Cup by then-England manager Fabio Capello, seeking cover for injury victims Wes Brown and Joleon Lescott.

    Carragher had viewed his return to the side in South Africa as a "one-off" thing and famously always chose club duties over country duties.

    Following England's exit at the World Cup at the hands of Germany, Carragher announced his retirement once again.

  8. #8 David Villa | Spain, 2017

    Former Spain striker and all-time top goalscorer David Villa returned to La Roja after a three-year absence to be called up for the World Cup qualification fixtures against Italy and Liechtenstein in 2017. 

    Villa featured in the game against the Azzurri for the last few minutes, but finished the game injured and has not appeared for Spain since.

  9. #9 Lilian Thuram | France, 2005

    Lilian Thuram also returned to France with the "golden generation" of Zidane and Makelele in 2005 following his international retirement, guiding his side to a second-placed finish in the 2006 World Cup.

    His centre-back partnership with William Gallas was to be the basis for France's journey to the final. With 142 appearances, he is still France's most capped player.

  10. #10 Roy Keane | Republic of Ireland, 2004

    Roy Keane was involved in a controversial falling out with his former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy that started over his discontent over the team's World Cup training base.

    Things made a turn for the worse after Keane gave an interview to the Irish Times bashing the state of the team and the camp  – something that offended McCarthy – which led to a heated confrontation between the pair. McCarthy dismissed Keane from the squad and sent him home.

    Roy Keane came back to Ireland in April 2004, however, after McCarthy's resignation as head coach in November 2002.

  11. #11 Andrea Pirlo | Italy, 2015

    Despite initially announcing his retirement from Italy following the 2014 World Cup, Pirlo retracted his decision under new national team manager Antonio Conte for the Euro 2016 qualification fixtures.

    After four appearances under Conte, however, Pirlo was left out of the manager's 30-man shortlist for Italy's Euro 2016 squad – though the Italy legend has stated that there is no ill-feeling between the pair.

  12. #12 Edwin van der Sar | Netherlands, 2009

    The Dutch goalkeeper had inititally planned to retire following the 2008 Euros, but head coach Bert van Marwijk encouraged the shot-stopper to return to the side for the Netherlands' 2010 World Cup qualification matches as Maarten Stekelenburg and Henk Timmer were both unavailable.

    He earned his 130th Dutch cap during the qualification stages against Norway, making him his country's most-capped player until Wesley Sneijer surpassed him in 2017.

  13. #13 Roger Milla | Cameroon, 1990

    The former Cameroon international has one of the most memorable tales of reversing his decision to retire from international duty.

    Milla, after already announcing an end to his international career and enjoying his vacation, received a call from Cameroonian president begging him to play in the 1990 World Cup.

    He agreed, and went to Italy with the Indomitable Lions for the 1990 edition of the competition at a monumental age of 38 years, scoring four goals.

  14. #14 Michel Platini | France & Kuwait, 1988

    After announcing his retirement from the French team in 1987, Platini's last match came in 1988, when he came out of retirement for one day to play in an international friendly match representing Kuwait against the Soviet Union at the request of the Kuwaiti Emir.

    The former UEFA president played 21 minutes in the 2–0 loss to the Soviets. In doing so, Platini completed the rare notion of representing more than one country at full international level.

  15. #15 Asamoah Gyan | Ghana, 2014

    During the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2008, Gyan and his brother Baffour opted to leave the Black Stars after his team were criticised for their unconvincing 1-0 win over Namibia.

    The media became aware that the brothers intended to walk out on the Ghana side and were ready to leave the team hotel, but were persuaded to stay by their teammates.

    After Gyan missed a crucial penalty kick in the 2012 African Cup of Nations semi-final, however, that led to Ghana losing 1-0, he decided to take an 'indefinite break' from international duty – but announced his return to the Black Stars a few months later and still features for the side.

  16. #16 Kevin-Prince Boateng | Ghana, 2013

    In November of 2011, Boateng announced his retirement from the Ghana squad due to fatigue from travel at 24 years of age – and missed out on participating in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

    In October 2013, however, the midfielder was called up for Ghana's 2014 World Cup qualification play-offs against Egypt, and his goal against the Pharoahs in the 89th minute secured qualification for the Black Stars in Brazil.

  17. #17 Tim Cahill | Australia, 2018

    In July 2018, the Australia veteran announced his retirement from international football shortly after the end of the World Cup finals in Russia, but immediately overturned with the decision to participate in one final home friendly planned against Lebanon in November 2018.

  18. #18 George Weah | Liberia, 2018

    Liberia legend George Weah returned to the national team for a special friendly against Nigeria in September 2018, playing at 51 years of age while also balancing his duty in office as the country's president.

    The No.14 shirt which was worn by Weah at the peak of his playing career was retired during the friendly, and the former striker received a standing ovation when substituted in the game.