The professor in me says this question has too many confounds. You need to distinguish among the following:
- a situation where a person has enormous talent but the situation did not mesh with the talents until a certain time (Churchill and de Gaulle in 1935);
- a situation where a person had appreciable talents but was wrongly assumed to have lost it (e.g. Kurt Warner);
- a situation where a talented person is called back and does a great job (Derek Bok, president of Harvard who had been out of office for 15 years when he was called in after Larry Summers' resignation); and
- a talented person who is called back but his skills are no long appropriate for the job/context which has changed (An Wang of Wang computers and many other failed returnees in the high tech industries).
One more thing: Traditionally, Chinese society has been clever about this. They keep old timers around, give them honorific titles, and have the flexiblity of drawing on them as necessary. In a Western country, Deng Xiaoping might never have had a chance for a comeback.
We'll let the reader grade the student.
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