Robin van Persie
- Full name Robin van Persie
- Birth date August 6, 1983
- Birth place Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Current age 29 years 291 days
- Height 6 ft
Little was known about Robin van Persie when he finally came on Arsene Wenger's radar in 2004. A young forward with Feyenoord, Van Persie had only been playing in the Eredivisie club's first team for a couple of seasons. Van Persie soon showed Arsenal fans why Wenger rated him so highly and he is now a vital player for both club and country.
Van Persie was handed his international debut in the summer of 2005, 12 months after moving to North London. He had been slowly brought into the Arsenal first team by Wenger, who was eager to transform him from a left-winger to a forward. By the time the 2006 World Cup came around, Van Persie had forced his way into the Dutch first team and he represented the country once again as they lost the final of the 2010 World Cup.
Injuries have plagued his time with Arsenal, though his disciplinary problems appear to have abated, and when fit he can be an explosive player with a bullet shot and a fearsome free-kick. In the 2008-09 season he was named the club's player of the season after scoring 20 goals and started the following campaign in tremendous fashion.
But just as he was drawing comparisons with some of the best strikers in Europe after operating as the central striker in Arsenal's 4-3-3 formation, Van Persie suffered a serious injury in a friendly international against Italy in November 2009 that ruled him out for five months. Once again, the Dutchman was left trying to prove that his brilliance does not come at cost.
Wenger's faith remained unwavering and with Cesc Fabregas having returned to Barcelona, Van Persie was made captain of Arsenal. He repaid the Frenchman on the pitch, ending the season as the Premier League's top scorer as the Gunners overhauled Tottenham to finish third and guarantee another season in the Champions League.
But with the Dutchman in the final year of his contract in 2012, Manchester United and Manchester City submitted bids to Arsenal. Van Persie eyed the exit, refusing to re-sign with the club. Listening to 'the little boy inside him', Van Persie opted for United, joining for £24 million.
His decision was soon vindicated as United went on to win the 2012-13 Premier League title, with the Dutchman's goals playing a critical role in claiming Sir Alex Ferguson's final trophy with the club. A hat-trick against Aston Villa, including a stunning volley from a 60-yard Wayne Rooney pass, sealed the title and his own maiden Premier League winner's medal.
Strengths: With pace and skill in abundance, this forward can change a game in an instant with his ability to achieve the improbable. He is technically excellent with the vision to unlock a defence too.
Weaknesses: His injury problems have been well documented, and perhaps sometimes he takes the difficult option when a simple pass would suffice.
Career high: Winning the UEFA Cup in 2002, aged 17, as Feyenoord beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in Feyenoord's own stadium.
Career low: Sent off against Stoke in November 2008 after being wound up by goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen. The player thought his disciplinary problems were behind him - it was his first red in three years.
Style: Increasingly likened to the great Dennis Bergkamp, Van Persie is a player of supreme skill and ability who likes to try the audacious.
Quotes: "He is very intelligent and talented but most of all he is passionate about the game. At the start we gave him Dennis Bergkamp as a role model. And he has grown into the Bergkamp role. He is becoming like Dennis in his passing - and he scores more goals than Dennis. He respected Dennis and listened to his advice." Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger in February 2009.
Trivia: Van Persie is a left-footed player and has an interesting turn of phrase to describe his right. "I think you will miss many more chances with your chocolate leg if you think negatively, thinking that it's not your strong foot," he once said.
- Van Persie receives fans' award (May 16, 2013)
- United deputies fear exit under Moyes (May 14, 2013)
- Wenger coy on Rooney speculation (May 14, 2013)
- Ferguson confirms Rooney transfer request (May 12, 2013)
Rio: RvP deserved 'flawed' PFA award (May 8, 2013)