Arjen Robben: Netherlands’ crown jewel
If failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup wasn’t enough to sour the Netherlands’ tone, then confirmation of affluent winger Arjen Robben’s retirement would have rubbed salt in some deep wounds.
At 33 years old, the Bedum-born attacker was still continuing to carry his country on his shoulders in his last ever game for the Oranje as he scored both goals against Sweden to give the Dutch the smallest flicker of hope. Unfortunately for them, they needed another five if they were to board the plane to Russia.
Throughout his international career spanning 18 years since he made his bow for the Under 15s, Robben has been the classic winger. Defenders trying to avoid showing him onto his destructive left foot before watching him wheel away in celebration have been the hallmark of Robben’s game.
“I’m 33 years old now. I’m playing at a top club in Europe and I want to concentrate on it now. It’s also a good time to hand over the baton,” Robben told Dutch media outlet vi.nl.
“I still feel very good and want to be at the top as long as possible. I am very proud and honoured at my six tournaments.There are many beautiful moments, 14 years is a long time.”
He has made 96 appearances for his country, scoring 37 goals in the process. He made his first international tournament at Euro 2004 in Portugal, before going on to make every competition with the Dutch team after that up to 2014.
The most notable of these was the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where the Netherlands reached the final. Robben was nominated for the 2010 World Cup Golden Ball after this, and despite losing 1–0 to Spain in the decider, his country was on the rise.
Described by ESPN as “one of the best wingers in the world”, stating that he’s “able to take on and beat defenders at the drop of a hat”, Robben’s style of play can only be described as ‘chalk on the boots’.
At club level, Robben’s career has been equally as impressive. Starting off at Dutch side Groningen in 2000 where he scored 12 goals, he eventually moved to PSV two years later, scoring 22.
But it was in 2004 when he got a taste of Premier League football, moving to the bright lights of London to play for Chelsea. Here, he managed 19 goals but injury problems under Jose Mourinho forced him to move on, this time to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
After amassing 13 goals for Los Blancos, he settled in Germany in 2009 at Bayern Munich, where he remains now.
Of the 199 club career goals he has scored, 133 have been in Bavaria. Bayern Munich has been the Dutchman’s savior.
Hugging the byline, Robben’s emphatic ability to run the length of the wing with the ball at his feet before cutting in and peppering unstoppable drives at the opposition goal is representative of the ultimate wide player, but he also has the ability to deliver inviting crosses and is dangerous from set-pieces. Robben has all the boxes ticked.
“Arjen, bedankt”, chanted the Dutch fans after Robben’s final international appearance against the Swedes. A chant to which he clapped to before walking off the field for his country for one last time.