Here are the world stars who have reversed their decision to retire from international football:


Before Toni Kroos, other world champions reversed their decision to retire from international football:

“Toni Kroos was incredible! »

One man, Julian Nagelsmann, and all of Germany were happy with the return of their midfield maestro Toni Kroos, three years after he last represented the Mannschaft, following elimination at EURO 2021. Kroos indeed returns of service against France in a friendly match on Saturday March 23, 2024, for a 2-0 success.

“Why am I coming back? Because the coach asked me and I’m up for it,” Kroos said before his return.

The Real Madrid player is not the first FIFA World Cup™ winner to reverse his decision to quit the national team. FIFA provides you with a non-exhaustive list.

Zinédine Zidane (France)

International retirement: August 2004

The trigger: the elimination of France in the quarter-finals of EURO 2004 against Greece (1-0)

Return to the national team: August 17, 2005, France 3-0 Ivory Coast

“I think that at some point you have to know how to say stop. It's hard to say to yourself that we're going to stop all this. It was time, it's my time. »

When Zinedine Zidane wrote these lines on his website in August 2004, France was in shock: its prodigal son was going to leave the national team. Zidane then has 93 caps in blue and won the 1998 FIFA World Cup™, as well as EURO 2000 with the Tricolores.

The post-return

Later, Zizou changed his mind after a long discussion with coach Raymond Domenech who came to see him several times in Madrid, where he plays for a club. “I thought about it carefully, the French team has given me so much that I want to help them,” he said then.

Zidane brings back the rooster flocked tunic and helps France qualify for the 2006 World Cup where he scores against Spain in the round of 16 (3-1), against Portugal in the semi (1-0) and in the final against Italy by Panenka before being sent off for a header on Marco Materazzi. This 2006 final lost on penalties (1-1 ap, 5 tab to 3) remains Zinedine Zidane's last match with the French team.

In 15 matches with France after his return, Zizou started 15 times and scored 5 goals, for 10 wins, 4 draws (including the 2006 final) and one setback, 2-1 against Slovakia in a friendly.

Lilian Thuram (France)

International retirement: August 2004

The trigger: the elimination of France in the quarter-finals of EURO 2004 against Greece (1-0)

Return to the national team: August 17, 2005, France 3-0 Ivory Coast

Less restrained in the media than that of Zidane, the announcement of the international retirement of Lilian Thuram left the French team orphaned by its second most capped player at the time, with 103 caps, tied with Didier Deschamps but behind Marcel Desailly (116).

“The maximum I could offer to the French team, I gave it to them,” Thuram explained at the time. “Other people may perform better in my position and we need to prepare them for that. »

The post-return

If he passed the torch to Gaël Givet to accompany William Gallas in the central hinge during the first part of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, Thuram returned to Zidane's path to help the Blues qualify for the global competition where he fought the entirety of all encounters.

After his return, he made 39 caps, including 39 starts, to become the most capped player in blue with 142 caps – before being overtaken by Hugo Lloris at Qatar 2002 (145). He definitively ended his French career at the age of 36 as captain at EURO 2008, after a bitter 4-1 loss to the Netherlands in the group stage.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

International retirement: November 2017

The trigger: Italy's non-qualification for the 2018 World Cup

Return to the national team: March 23, 2018, Italy 0-2 Argentina

“What a shame that my last official match coincides with this failure,” declared at the time the emblematic goalkeeper of the Squadra Azzurra, 2006 world champion, after the setback against Sweden in the play-offs of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers (1-0 defeat). on the outward leg, 0-0 draw on the return leg). “But Italian football has a clear future. After we stumble, we always get back up. »

The post-return

Like Pirlo – who announced after the 2014 World Cup to finally stay – or even Giorgio Chiellini, Buffon responded to the songs of the French sirens, by returning in March the following year, to leave better: he played only one friendly match against the Argentinian, lost 2-0, before bowing out for good with 176 caps on the clock.

Lionel Messi (Argentinian)

International retirement: June 2016

The trigger: the 2016 Copa América Centenario final lost against Chile (0-0 ap, 4 tab to 2)

Return to the national team: September 2, 2016, Argentina 1-0 Uruguay

Leo Messi's international absence was very short-lived. Devastated after missing a shot on goal in the 2016 Copa América final, the FC Barcelona player at the time announced that he could no longer continue with the Albiceleste.

“In the locker room, I felt that it was the end for me in the national team,” he said then. “This is what I feel today, with great sadness. » If he had won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005 and the Olympic Games in 2008, and played in a World Cup final in 2014, the Pulga's record was still blank with the A.

The post-return

It only took two months for Messi to realize the mistake he had made – “I love this country and this jersey too much” – and he was already back in September 2016 for the remainder of the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. You know the rest. Messi finally won the Copa América in 2021, the Finalissima in 2022 and the FIFA World Cup in 2022, being voted Best Player each time.

He now has 106 goals in 180 caps. So will he be there at the 26 FIFA World Cup™? He announced in June 2023 that the 2022 World Cup was his last…


International retirement: July 1966

The trigger: Brazil's elimination in the group stage of the 1966 World Cup

Return to the national team: July 25, 1968, Brazil 4-0 Paraguay

Brazil played two years without its talisman Pelé after the elimination at the 1966 World Cup. He had already been crowned world champion twice, in 1958 and 1962.

The post-return

Returning for friendly matches in 1968, he also participated in the six qualifying matches for the 1970 World Cup, for six victories and six goals. He obviously then won his third World Cup, in Mexico.

He finally played his 92nd and last official match with the Seleção on July 18, 1971, in a friendly against Yugoslavia (2-2), in Rio de Janeiro. He has 77 goals with Auriverde.

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