Mick Fanning has stunned fans after announcing he will come out of retirement to compete at the World Surf League Leg in Narrabeen as a wildcard.
After 20 years since he won his first event event as a wildcard, Fanning announced he would return after contemplating coming out of retirement last year.
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The three-time world champion left the tour in 2018 and has since become a father.
Fanning considered a cameo over the last year, only for the coronavirus pandemic to scupper any attempts at a return.
But he committed to the Narrabeen event from April 16 though, announcing his intentions during the broadcast of the Newcastle Cup round of 16 on Friday.
"I'd been tossing up doing another event ... last year I was looking at doing J Bay, then the pandemic hit and then this year it would have been 20 years at Bells and it got cancelled," the 39-year-old said.
"It's like 'it's now or never, I'm not getting any younger' so why not."
Fans were excited over the legendary surfers 'extraordinary' announcement.
— amanda lulham (@amandalulham) April 9, 2021
.@Mick_Fanning puts the top 32 on notice as the event wildcard for the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic April 16-26th. Watch him in a new episode of Getting Heated tomorrow at 3 pm PST. @ripcurl @rosswilliamshi @coco_ho pic.twitter.com/WVNpsZ2KYF
— World Surf League (@wsl) April 8, 2021
— The Light In Life (@thelightinlife) April 8, 2021
Fanning returns after three-year retirement
Fanning collected world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
He also made worldwide headlines after a great white shark attack, which was caught on camera while competing at Jeffreys Bay in 2015.
Chasing a fifth Bells Beach title in his final event in 2018, Fanning was pipped in the final by Brazil's Italo Ferreira.
"To see the passion that Italo had when he did win, I knew I didn't have the same passion (anymore)," Fanning said.
"I'm just going to go and give it my all and maybe upset someone but the guys are so good right now, I'm not holding my breath."
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