The journey from troubled child in Kralingen, a multi-ethnic area of Rotterdam, to superstar in London is a long road to walk. But Robin van Persie has travelled the distance, step by step.
The talented but hard-to-handle Feyenoord starlet has become one of the best players in world football with Arsenal and is currently enjoying the finest season of his career, with manager Arsene Wenger hailing the 28-year-old as “world class”.
In September, the Dutch international scored his 100th goal for Arsenal in their EPL encounter against Bolton Wanderers, becoming the 17th player in the history of the Gunners to reach this impressive milestone.
At the end of October, Van Persie landed a hat-trick against rivals Chelsea, hitting the net for the 26th, 27th and 28th time in 2011 alone. With another two months to go until the end of the year, the Dutchman is very close to breaking yet another record, following his former team-mate Thierry Henry in the process (who scored 34 goals in 2004), by becoming the second player in the history of the EPL to score 30 or more goals in a calendar year.
World class striker, national idol - with 630,000 Twitter fans he is second only to the musician DJ Tiësto in his native Holland - and family man: Robin van Persie speaks to us about his world.
100 Club. “I like to read these kinds of statistics. However, they only tell you a part of the truth. I will always have something to learn from players like Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. Of course, I am proud to be compared to them, but this doesn’t mean I consider myself as good as them.
I know Arsenal are going to produce a DVD of my 100 goals. That’s funny because one of the first things I bought when I signed my first contract with the Gunners in 2004was a DVD of Bergkamp’s first 100 goals.”
Michael Jordan. “The most curious SMS I received after the game against Bolton was from [former Arsenal player and Dutch international] Glenn Helder. ‘Congratulations’ – he wrote – ‘you have scored 99 goals more than me with Arsenal.’ It made a laugh, then I turned the page. A sportsman should live in the present, not in the past.
This is a lesson I learnt from Michael Jordan. Once he said he was thinking about all the crucial misses he experienced in his basketball career: about 18,000. However, he accepted them and never looked back, becoming the champion everybody knows today.
For a footballer it works exactly the same. In the game against Bolton I could have scored five times, but I only hit the net twice. I didn’t think about it for too long. Sometimes the ball goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. When I was 20 I would have been frustrated about this, now I have become quieter. If I miss a chance I move on and think about what lies ahead, and how I can be useful to my team.”
Manchester United and Chelsea. “The 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford against Manchester United was something which could hardly be explained. It was a top football game with a futsal score, unbelievable.
What was behind this? The answer is simple: It was a game with a team that scored every time they shot on goal, while the other one was having one of their worst days in recent history; a day when nothing works out as planned.
But you can always learn a lot from experience and even from a defeat. And we proved this against Chelsea [on 29th October]: We didn’t play the perfect game, but every one of us fought at his best. The 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge was a great achievement.”
Title Contenders. “The Premier League has changed a lot in recent years. When I arrived at Arsenal in 2004, we beat Manchester City 6-0. Something like this is impossible now.
I’ve read that during the last five years City invested something like €645M. Tottenham spent around €400M and Liverpool too are at the top of the list of big spenders.
Arsenal’s philosophy is different. It might be harder to fight for the title now, but this doesn’t mean it is less exciting.
Despite all these changes, the Premier League remains the best and the most entertaining league in the world though. It is a tournament that can give players and fans everything they are looking for.”
Fonte: Football World - December 2011, Anniversary issue