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Seven biggest retirement U-turns in sport from Sir Alex and Scholes to Conor McGregor, Mayweather.. and Khabib?

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV announced his retirement from UFC in an emotional tribute to his late father after beating Justin Gaethje last weekend.

The Russian MMA ace, 32, lost dad Abdulmanap three months earlier aged 57 due to coronavirus.

Khabib promised his mother he would not fight again without his dad - and calls time on his career as arguably the best UFC star of all-time.

But once the dust has settled, Khabib may be tempted to follow in the footsteps of some of sport's biggest names and make a comeback.

From football and MMA to basketball and boxing, no sport is immune to big-name U-turns.

Some don't pan out quite as well as planned - such as Michael Schumacher's return to Formula One, when he finished ninth, eighth and 13th overall in his three seasons following a four-year break.

But some can be truly spectacular. We've taken a look at seven of the most memorable retirement U-turns in sporting history...


THE basketball legend led the Chicago Bulls to an incredible 'three-peat' between 1991 and 1993, winning three NBA titles in a row.

But MJ shocked the planet after announcing his retirement - claiming he'd fallen out of love with the sport.

Jordan followed in his father's footsteps in tackling a career in baseball - signing for Minor League side Birmingham Barons.

But just two years after quitting basketball, MJ revealed: "I'm back."

Jordan immediately led the Bulls to three more straight titles before retiring for a second time.

With long-time coach Phil Jackson - and star team-mates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman - all set to be moved on, Jordan called it quits in January 1999.

He took over a role as part owner of the Washington Wizards - before taking on a playing role with the team in 2001.

Jordan eventually called it quits for good in 2003.

In a career full of highlights, retiring in his prime only to return two years later and play to such an elite level is truly remarkable.


IT'S almost impossible to believe now, but in 2000-01, Ferguson revealed he planned to retire at the end of his Manchester United contract in 2002.

Fergie cited age and health as factors for quitting.

But he had also been negotiating a new role at Man Utd with the board, before talks collapsed and he revealed he would cut all ties with the club.

Ferguson had already won six Premier League titles at the time of the announcement - and made it No7 in the 2000-01 season.

But in February 2002, just months before he was due to quit, the Scot legend revealed he would stay on as manager.

Fergie would go on to win SIX more Premier League titles - taking his tally to an unprecedented 13 before he did finally retire.

He would also lead Man Utd to another Champions League crown - in 2007-08 - adding to his 1998-99 haul.


ANOTHER Man Utd legend, another incredible comeback story...

Scholes announced his retirement at the end of the 2010-11 season, having just clinched his tenth Premier League crown.

Man Utd held a testimonial match for Scholes three months later to honour his 17 years of service to the club.

But in January 2012, Scholes came out of retirement due to an injury crisis in the squad.

The midfielder bought a pair of £50 boots from JJB Sports, rather than ask sponsor Nike, in order to keep it all a secret.

Scholes made his comeback off the bench in the FA Cup clash with rivals Manchester City.

He then started the next game - the Premier League clash against Bolton.

Clearly having not missed a beat, Ferguson convinced Scholes to sign on for one more full season.

Scholes did so and played 21 times - including his 700th appearance - as United reclaimed the Premier League title from their 'noisy neighbours'.

Both he and Ferguson then officially retired for good.


In 2007, with an unblemished record of 39-0, Money announced he would hang up his gloves after a hard-fought win over Ricky Hatton.

The American claimed he wanted to focus on developing his company - Mayweather Promotions - and sign Hatton as his first client.

But just two years later, Mayweather was back in the ring to fight Juan Manuel Marquez - then the No2 pound-for-pound boxer.

Mayweather would fight TEN more times - winning all of them - to take his record to 49-0 before hanging up his gloves again.

In that run, Money beat the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto - with his final fight his win over Andre Berto.

Despite saying he'd quit for good, Mayweather did come out of retirement one more time - to face UFC star Conor McGregor in a boxing match in Las Vegas.

Mayweather won that bout too via tenth-round stoppage, taking his career tally to a barely-believable 50-0.

Money has since fought kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition fight - and won in little over one minute - as well as appearing at WWE'S No Way Out in 2018.


THE Irish MMA star has become famous for his retirement U-turns - having now retired THREE times.

In March 2016, McGregor suffered only the third defeat of his career against Nate Diaz.

He retired shortly afterwards with a now-famous tweet: "Thanks for the cheese."

At that point McGregor had a UFC record of 19-3.

But Notorious was back just months later as he took on Diaz in a rematch - and won via majority decision after a tough fight.

McGregor then fought - and beat - Eddie Alvarez before coming up against Khabib in a monster showdown in Vegas in October 2018.

The Irishman lost and was involved in a mass brawl in the octagon immediately afterwards.

He promptly retired for the second time... only to return little over a year later to take on veteran Donald Cerrone in January 2020.

McGregor won that fight, taking his career record to 22-4, before he announced his retirement in June 2020 after UFC 250.

The Crumlin star was accused of 'hijacking' the event by Joe Rogan after Amanda Nunes beat Felicia Spencer in the main event.

And now McGregor is set to come out of retirement for a third time to take on Dustin Poirier - whom he beat in 2014.


REDGRAVE will go down as one of rowing's greatest-ever stars.

The British legend went to his first Olympic Games in 1984 - winning gold in Los Angeles as part of a coxed four.

And Redgrave won gold in all four of the next games in the coxless four - taking first place in Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney.

After his 1996 success in the US, Redgrave joked: “If anyone sees me go near a boat, you've got my permission to shoot me."

But incredibly, he was back in the boat for Sydney in 2000 - and helped the British quartet steal another gold medal.

He eventually retired after 16 years of Olympic glory spanning five Games.

To this day, he is Britain's fourth-most-decorated Olympian - behind cyclists Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Jason Kenny.


FOREMAN is often remembered for his loss to Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.

But before that, the American was 40-0 - beating Smokin' Joe Frazier amongst other big names.

Foreman would win his next five fights too, following his loss to Ali.

But after losing to Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico, Foreman had a 'religious experience' gave up boxing and became an ordained minister.

A decade later, and now aged 38, Foreman returned to the ring against Steve Zouski and would go on to win his next 24 FIGHTS.

Foreman won three of his following five bouts, losing only to Evander Holyfield in 1991 and Tommy Morrison in 1993.

Incredibly, in 1994 - just two months shy of his 46th birthday - he beat Michael Moorer to win the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.

Foreman won his next three fights - including his victory over Lou Savarese aged 48 - before losing to Shannon Briggs in 1997, under two months before his turning 49.

He retired with a remarkable career record of 76-5.

Khabib retires as ‘truly the GOAT and best P4P UFC fighter’ according to Dana White in Conor McGregor and Jon Jones snub

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