So good they signed them twice: the comeback kids

As Fernando Torres is unveiled at Club Atlético de Madrid, recalls a selection of players for whom one spell at a club, sometimes two, was not enough.

Homecoming heroes ©AFP/Getty Images

Vladimír Šmicer – SK Slavia Praha (1992–96, 200709)
Šmicer's nickname 'Lucky Boy' was no misnomer. He departed Slavia before EURO '96 having inspired them to their first championship in 49 years, despite the club juggling the title tilt with a run to the UEFA Cup semi-finals. He spent the next 11 years exhibiting his Midas touch at RC Lens, Liverpool FC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux before, aged 34, returning to Prague. He promptly helped Slavia into the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time and captured back-to-back titles before retiring in 2009. The red and whites have won nothing since.

Robert Prosinečki – GNK Dinamo Zagreb (198687, 19972000)
Dinamo coach Miroslav Blažević was not exactly mournful as Prosinečki departed for FK Crvena zvezda in 1987, saying he would eat his footballing diploma if the 18-year-old amounted to anything. He was still chewing a decade later when the technical master returned following spells at Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona among others. He owed it to the fans, Prosinečki said. He duly repaid them with interest by captaining Modri to three league titles in as many seasons, as well as two Croatian Cups. His 50 appearances brought 14 goals.

Henrik Larsson – Helsingborgs IF (199293, 200609)
Larsson managed a major trophy a season between spells at Helsingborg, encompassing time at Feyenoord, Celtic FC and Barcelona. He returned to his home-town club in 2006, and though he was never going to rekindle the prolific form that brought 50 goals in 56 league outings during his first stint, he did enjoy success. The team won the Swedish Cup in 2006 and in 2007/08, 'Henke' was the fulcrum of Helsingborg's run to the UEFA Cup round of 32. He retired in 2009 but in November announced another return to Helsingborg, this time as coach.

Raymond Kopa – Stade de Reims (19511956, 19591967)
Former pit boy Kopa won two championships in his first stint at Reims before joining Real Madrid after the Spanish giants had beaten them 4-3 in the inaugural European Champion Clubs' Cup final. He won two more titles and three European Cups in the Spanish capital, the last against a Reims side he promptly rejoined. Two more league titles followed before a sharp decline brought relegation in 1963/64. Kopa was determined to restore Reims' top-flight status and, having done so, retired in 1967.

Hernán Crespo – FC Internazionale Milano (2002/03, 200609)
Once the world's most expensive player, Crespo was the inspiration behind the Nerazzurri's run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in his first season before departing for Chelsea FC. Aside from a Premier League title, the Argentinian forward never quite enjoyed the success he promised (he scored twice in AC Milan's 2005 UEFA Champions League final defeat by Šmicer's Liverpool). Not until returning to Inter, that is. He won the Scudetto three times in as many seasons.

Ricardo Zamora (RCD Espanyol 191619, 192230)
Espanyol welcomed back their local hero with open arms in 1922, three years after he had left for Barcelona. Zamora defended Espanyol's goal for nearly a decade, lifting the Copa del Rey in his penultimate season. He won more trophies with Barcelona and Real Madrid but Espanyol remained closest to his heart and he later enjoyed two spells in charge of the Pericos and continued to work for the club long after quitting coaching. Upon Zamora's death in 1978, Espanyol held his open casket at their Sarriá stadium.

Lothar Matthäus (FC Bayern München 1984−88, 1992−2000)
Matthäus left Bayern in 1988 for Inter after a hugely successful first spell. It was while a Nerazzurri player that Matthäus helped Germany to FIFA World Cup glory at Italia '90. He returned to Bayern the following year despite a serious knee injury. Matthäus switched from a midfielder to a sweeper after his recovery and was integral as Bayern won four more Bundesliga titles, taking his haul to seven with the Bavarians, and the 1996 UEFA Cup. He made his final Bayern appearance in March 2000 shortly before turning 39 and finished his career in the United States.

Andriy Shevchenko  FC Dynamo Kyiv (199399, 200912)
Shevchenko debuted for Dynamo aged 18. His goals fired the White-Blues to five league titles and three Ukrainian Cups before Milan swooped in May 1999. Shevchenko swiftly became a darling of the San Siro faithful, his annus mirabilis coming in 2003 when the Rossoneri won the UEFA Champions League (he converted the decisive penalty in the final shoot-out against Juventus), Coppa Italia and UEFA Super Cup, and added the Scudetto the following season. After three years at Chelsea, Shevchenko re-signed for Dynamo. He hung up his boots after turning out for Ukraine on home soil at UEFA EURO 2012. Now studying for his UEFA Pro Licence, his Dynamo story might well extend to another chapter.

Marius Lăcătuș – FC Steaua București (198390, 19932000)
With ten league titles, seven Romanian Cups and the 1986 European Champion Clubs' Cup to his name, Lăcătuș is the most successful player in Steaua's history. The striker endeared himself to the fans with his aggression, commitment and dedication, so it was with great regret that he departed in 1990 for ACF Fiorentina. A sojourn in Oviedo, where he now lives with his family, followed before the man who started his decorated career at FC Brașov returned in 1993 for another trophy-laden spell with Steaua. Three unsuccessful stints as coach have done little to tarnish his reputation at the capital club.

Hakan Şükür  Galatasaray AŞ (199295, 19952000, 200308)
A bona fide Galatasaray legend, Hakan returned to the Istanbul club twice. The first came after the briefest of spells at Torino FC in 1995/96, the second following appearances for Inter, Parma FC and Blackburn Rovers FC between 2000 and 2003. In total for Galatasaray, the one-time Turkey striker scored 217 league goals in 392 games, won seven championship titles, five Turkish Cups and converted a penalty in the shoot-out as Cimbom defeated Arsenal FC in the 2000 UEFA Cup final.

Aleksandr Hleb – FC BATE Borisov (1999−2000, 2012−13)
Hleb joined VfB Stuttgart as a 19-year-old in 2000, having helped BATE to their maiden Belarusian title the previous year. A key player for Arsenal between 2005 and 2008, the creative midfielder has also represented Barcelona, Birmingham City FC, VfL Wolfsburg and FC Krylya Sovetov Samara. Hleb renewed his ties with BATE in the summer of 2012, staying with his first club for 18 months before moving to Turkish outfit Konyaspor.

By Elvir Islamović, Christian Châtelet, Ondřej Zlámal, Sujay Dutt, Paolo Menicucci, Richard Martin, Justin Schroll, Denis Orlov, Igor Linnyk, Paul Zaharia, Türker Tozar