With Robin Van Persie announcing to the world his intention to retire at the end of the season, we look at some of the Dutchman’s best moments in football.
This looks to be The Flying Dutchman’s last season in football. 😢
Robin Van Persie introduces today’s Squawka Suggests. pic.twitter.com/NUTySQQbru
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 25, 2018
THAT goal vs Charlton:
Two years into his Arsenal career, Van Persie was just beginning to establish himself in the team. They traveled to Charlton in September of 2006, looking to wrap up a supposedly easy win. Charlton had other ideas, however, as they took the lead via Darren Bent, before Van Persie leveled for the visitors, the first of his two goals that night, with both teams going into half-time at 1-1.
What followed 4 minutes into the second half was something that would be written about for years to come. Starting the attack from deep, Gilberto found Eboue in space on the right wing, who then sent in a bent cross. To everyone’s disbelief, Van Persie came flying in to meet the cross – finding the back of the net from an astonishingly improbable position as he stunned the stadium into silence.
A star had just been born.
Audacious strike at the Nou Camp:
Despite Thierry Henry’s departure two years prior to Barcelona – leaving Van Persie as the main man at Arsenal, he had been struggling to fill the goal-scoring void left by the Frenchman and it was only this season that he had somewhat picked up.
His willingness to finally shoulder the responsibility in big games was thus perfectly epitomised by his strike at Camp Nou.
Drawn against Barcelona, Arsenal weren’t expected to make the next round by many but surprised everyone by a resilient away performance.
The score precariously positioned 1-1, Gael Clichy found the the striker with a beautifully timed ball over the Barcelona defence, Van Persie timing his run perfectly to remain onside. Victor Valdes moved away from his near post expecting Van Persie to square the ball from the edge of the area. The Dutchman had other ideas, however, as he took a good look at goal before launching a stunning strike in from an impossible angle, completely catching the goalkeeper out, making it 10 goals in 10 games for the himself.
Arsenal fans rejoiced as Wenger’s men took home a 2-1 lead from the first leg with Van Persie at the heart of it all.
Hat-trick at Stamford Bridge:
Having finished the previous season with 18 goals – just two behind joint top scorers Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez, Van Persie was handed the captain’s armband in North London following Cesc Fabregas’s departure to his boyhood club Barcelona.
He did all his talking on the pitch that season, repaying Arsenal’s gesture with a three goal salvo in a topsy turvy game at Stamford Bridge – coming from behind twice to win the game 5-3.
Van Persie first struck with a tap-in to make it 1-1 in the 36th minute. Both sides kept on scoring in the first half and in the second, Juan Mata finally looking to have sealed a point for the Blues by making it 3-3 in the 80th minute. Van Persie clearly did not feel the same way as he capitalized on John Terry’s slip to make it 4-3, before sealing Arsenal’s win with a blistering counter-attacking in the second minute of added time, putting the final touches on a complete captain’s performance.
First Premier League Golden boot:
In his first season as club captain for the North London side, Van Persie repaid every penny and every ounce of patience they spent on him by littering his season with exquisite goals and uncountable winners for Arsenal.
Highlights included a brace against Aston Villa to help the Gunners come from behind, his hat-trick at the Bridge, scoring the equalizer in a 5-2 comeback win (from 2-0 down) against Spurs and a double at Merseyside against Liverpool.
Van Persie’s impeccable form was rewarded at the end of the season with his first Premier League Golden Boot award – finishing the year with 30 goals in the league to land the coveted individual award.
Every bit deserved.
Transfer to Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United:
With Van Persie announcing his decision not to sign a new contract at Arsenal in July 2012, Manchester United sprung in to sign the Dutch sensation.
Such was the demand for his signature that Sir Alex Ferguson personally intervened and spoke with Arsene Wenger to get the deal over the line – incredibly signing him for a surprising 22.5 million pounds.
Van Persie looked to be in love with the club and the manager as he called Old Trafford ‘perfect’ for him, saying “It is always quite difficult to find a perfect match but I do feel that this is perfect for me”.
He then proceeded to make his now-infamous quote, an ominous sign for the rest of the Premier League.
“I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United.”
First Premier League title with goal of the season:
Truth be told, Robin Van Persie and Manchester United were a match made in heaven and they proved likewise in his first season and Sir Alex’s final at the club.
Van Persie scored goals left, right and center as Manchester United looked to wrestle the league off Manchester City – scoring against all the big clubs in Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
With United taking a massive lead at the top, it was only a question of when rather than if.
The Mancunians were finally looking to seal the trophy against Villa at Old Trafford, and they did so in some style.
Having scored the first in just 83 seconds, in the 24th minute – Van Persie started his run as soon as Wayne Rooney picked the ball off the halfway line, watching his 50 yard pass till the very last second before unleashing an unstoppable volley from outside the area – scoring his 2nd and securing United’s 20th title.
Van Persie’s Premier League dream had finally come true, all thanks to that little boy who screamed ‘United!’
Flying Header at the World Cup:
One year on from Sir Alex’s departure, Van Persie clearly looked jaded by his boss’ retirement as he battled injury and lack of form in an on-off season at club level – with David Moyes sacked just 8 months into his tenure in Manchester. Looking to erase all bad memories, he made the trip to Brazil with the Holland squad and boss Louis Van Gaal for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. All eyes were on the Dutch as they started their campaign against Spain in what was labelled as the group of death.
The champions were shaken all ends up though, as Van Persie started the party with a wonder goal, flying off the ground to loop Daley Blind’s cross over Iker Casillas and into the net, in an iconic moment for world football.
Van Persie’s night did not end there as he dispossessed Iker Casillas to score another goal in what would ultimately be a 5-1 win for the Netherlands on the night.