5. Michael Jordan
Frequently championed as the greatest player the sport has ever seen, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan shocked the sports world with the announcement in 1993 that he was to leave basketball in pursuit of a career in baseball. This fling was short lived however, as 2 years later Jordan was back at the Bulls up to his old consecutive title winning tricks. The New Yorker remained with the iconic Bulls until his retirement in 2003.
4. George Foreman
One of the most notorious heavy-weight boxers in the world during his 60’s/70’s heyday, George Foreman left the sport in 1977 as a result of his born again Christianity/ordainment as a minister. It wasn’t too long before the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ legend returned however- stepping into the ring 10 years later in an apparent bid to raise funds for a youth centre he was in the process of setting up. Fighting on for several more years, the by now middle aged Foreman went on to become the oldest heavyweight champion ever in 1994 at age 45.
Completing a staggering 17 seasons at his home club of Santos, Brazil- soccer icon Pele’ originally retired in 1974, aged 34. Becoming a legend of the sport as a result of his exploits when representing Brazil on the world stage- Pele’ received persistent pressure to rethink his status from clubs all over the world. A year after retiring from Santos, Pele’ headed to the US to play for New York Cosmos. During a tenure at the club which lasted 2 years- he helped spread the sport across a country that had previously shown very little interest in it.
2. Zinedine Zidane
This French soccer, or as they call it everywhere else- ‘football’, player announced his retirement following the Euro 2004 international finals. Over the next couple of years however, with the French team struggling immensely throughout their World Cup 06’ qualification bid- coach Raymond Domenech managed to persuade the legendary striker into re-joining his old teammates for the eventual competition. Zidane led the French firmly all the way through to the final, in which they faced a very strong Italian side. Controversy struck suddenly when the Frenchman head-butted Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest after an exchange of words. Zidane was sent off, and Italy went on to win in penalties after a 1-1 tie.
1. Muhammed Ali
Perhaps the most famous name in the history of Boxing, Muhammad Ali is an all-round cultural icon. Originally named Cassius Clay, Ali converted to Islam in the early 1960’s- around about the same time he started making a real name for himself as a premier fighter- winning his first heavyweight title in 64’ aged 22. Later in the decade Ali found himself the subject of widespread and public vilification due his objection of the request that he serve in the Vietnam War. After a stint of exile from the sport due to charges faced for his refusal to enlist, Ali made a furious comeback in 1970 when his case was overturned- going on to enjoy life as a heavyweight champion once again.