Taking things back to where it all began for the final days of your playing career has proved to be a tempting prospect for players in the modern era. 


While some opt for a last-minute cash grab to beef up the retirement fund, others see the romance of bringing things full-circle while closing out their playing days in some familiar surroundings as the way to go.


Here, we've listed six of the best players in recent times to have gone back to the club or country where it all began before hanging up the boots.


Gianluigi Buffon

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Starting with the most recent example, Gigi Buffon is considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper to have ever played the game. After 23 years in Serie A with Juventus and Parma, he opted to make the switch to France, joining PSG in what seemed like a final attempt at winning the one trophy that has evaded him throughout his career - the Champions League.


It didn't quite work out as planned, however. Sharing the gloves with incumbent stopper Alphonse Areola, the Parisians were eliminated at the last 16 stage by Manchester United, and Buffon's future was once again in flux. 


At 41, however, rather than retiring, he saw an offer to return to the club at which he is beloved as too tempting to knock back. He is once again a Juventus player, looking to add to the 19 trophies he has already won in Turin. 


Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt

The career of Dutch legend Dirk Kuyt is a remarkable one. Starting out as an amateur with Katwijk-based club Quick Boys, he earned his stripes quickly, going on to star as a striker for Utrecht and then Feyenoord. 


His Eredivisie performances earned him a move to Liverpool in 2006 where, despite a relative lack of trophy-winning success, he wrote himself into cult hero folklore with 71 goals in 286 appearances - including a famous hat-trick against Manchester United in 2011. 


From here, he would go on to join Fenerbahce, before returning to Feyenoord in 2015. It didn't end there though, as after retiring in 2017, he was forced to dust off the boots to once again feature for Quick Boys, who desperately lacked strikers.


Rivaldo

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Brazilian legend Rivaldo played for as many as 12 different clubs over the course of his  remarkable 24-year career, and is perhaps best remembered for his clinical partnership with Patrick Kluivert at Barcelona - as well as his glittering international career that yielded the 2002 World Cup.


Now 47, he only retired as recently as four years ago, after returning to Brazil for spells with Sao Caetano and Mogo Mirim - the second professional club he played for prior to his big European break.


In total, he scored 377 goals in 813 appearances at club level, as well as 35 in 74 for Brazil. 


Clint Dempsey

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Generally considered to be the greatest American football (or soccer) player ever, Dempsey joined Fulham in December as a fresh-faced 24-year-old who had already made a lasting impact on both MLS and the international stage. He scored his country's only goal at the World Cup just months earlier. 


After a slow start to life in London, the forward would go on to net 60 goals in 232 appearances for the Cottagers, as well as a slightly more modest 12 in a single season at Tottenham. But as he entered his thirties, a return to his native US beckoned. 


He spent the next five years with Seattle Sounders, and would retire in 2018 as a legend of  American sports. 


Robin van Persie

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His much-maligned move from Arsenal to Manchester United in 2012 remains one of the most controversial and polarising transfers of the Premier League era, but anyone who watched Robin van Persie over the course of his career would agree on one thing - he was a phenomenal footballer. 


The record goalscorer for the Dutch national team, Van Persie scored 132 goals in 278 games for the Gunners and 58 in 105 for United, but started and ended his career at his beloved Feyenoord, for whom he fired 47 goals in 123 appearances over his two spells. 


He retired from football earlier this year, but only after helping his boyhood club to KNVB Cup success in 2018. 


Ronaldinho

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There is little argument against Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the two best players of the 21st century so far, but for many of us who watched Barcelona between 2003 and 2008, Ronaldinho was in some ways more memorable than either - based on entertainment value alone.


He was given his big break with Paris Saint-Germain in 2001, leaving his native Brazil after three years with Gremio, and went on to have a glittering ten-year career on the continent with Paris, Barca, and later Milan. 


After his form tailed into his 30s, he opted to call time on his European exploits, and was given a hero's welcome on his return to his home country with Flamengo in 2011. He went on to feature heavily for Atletico Mineiro and Queretaro, before a short-lived stint with Fluminese preceded his eventual retirement in 2015.


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