Today marks the 29th birthday of a Gunner that has shaken the football world for more reasons than one.
Born on 6 August 1983 in the Dutch City of Rotterdam, Robin van Persie began his youth career in Excelsior before making a move to the club that gave him his football education, Feyenoord.
In his three-year stint in Feyenoord’s first team from 2001 to 2004, van Persie won the UEFA Cup with the Dutch outfit, but he had a lot of irreconcilable differences with the manager and present Dutch coach, Bert van Marwijk.
He won the best young talent of the Eredivisie award in 2002 and had a tumultuous time in the tail end of his Feyenoord career. After making 59 appearances and scoring 15 league goals in three years at the club, van Persie parted ways with Feyenoord and joined Arsenal as a long-term replacement for the great Dennis Bergkamp.
At Arsenal, Robin van Persie made his debut against Manchester United in the Community Shield of 2004 and has been a loyal servant to the club ever since. He has had the pleasure of playing beside excellent forwards like Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
He started his career as a winger, but Arsene Wenger decided to give him a more central role after signing him from Feyenoord in 2004. He thrived well as a supporting striker to Thierry Henry and they combined well for a number of seasons before King Henry’s departure to Barcelona in the start of the 2007-08 campaign.
With the exit of his predecessors, van Persie has stepped up the plate to become the most important player in Arsenal Football Club. He has currently amassed a total 132 goals in just 277 appearances for the club with 96 of those goals scored in the Premier League.
He announced himself on the big stage with that dramatic equalizer against Southampton.
If my memory serves me right, Arsenal’s stint at immortality (49-game unbeaten run) was halted at Old Trafford, and it looked like a second defeat in a row, when we were trailing 2-1 to Southampton at Highbury.
Van Persie got the ball in the box in the 93rd minute, skipped two defenders, and rifled in an amazing shot past Antti Niemi, to salvage a draw.
Robin van Persie is a technically proficient striker that has made a name for himself in the Red half of North London. He’s a player blessed with an amazing technique and an eye for a pass and clinical finishing ability.
Arsene Wenger has groomed many great strikers and their exit always paved the way for another to emerge as the next best thing. Henry, Nwankwo Kanu and Dennis Bergkamp ruled the frontline for Arsene Wenger’s Red and White army for a couple of seasons before the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo stole the show.
Van Persie has always been around, but injuries blighted the early part of his Arsenal career. He never had the chance to fulfill his potential. But since the start of 2011, the striker has stayed fit and this has been to the detriment of many clubs playing against Arsenal as the Flying Dutchman has gone on to smash 35 league goals in 38 games last year, a goal shy of the great Alan Shearer’s record.
If you check a dictionary for the meaning of the word “van Persie,” the definition would be “a perpetual goal scoring machine of the first kind.”
There are only a handful of forwards that can do what van Persie does with the ball. Van Persie’s close control with the ball is amazing and he’s a live wire with the ball at his feet.
It’s also fair to say that van Persie is a core member of the League of Extraordinary Technically Gifted Strikers that’s headed by Zlatan Ibracadabra. Dimitar Berbatov is still the vice president though; the Bulgarian can bring any ball under control, even if the ball was launched from orbit by an astronaut in space.
Robin van Persie is not the kind of a striker you would want to give half a chance at your goal because you’ll be very sorry. His left foot has venom that’s very potent and he’s equally adept using his right chocolate leg. He has also added headers to his game and this has made him one of the most complete forwards in the business.
Robin van Persie is one of the most unpredictable players to come against. The way he twists and turns with the ball on his feet gives defenders eye-turning moments.
There are times when van Persie treats the football like a pet, especially when he wants to put it in a position to pull the trigger. As for free kicks, van Persie’s touch of the ball is always a stroke of genius and the goals resulted from his dead ball situations are always regarded as masterpieces.
Van Persie has really matured from the hothead of Rotterdam to the exemplary leader of the Emirates. Arsenal has lost great footballers over the years for more reasons than one; Patrick Vieira paid his dues and left in search of Champions League glory, age caught up with Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, David Seaman et al while Cesc Fabregas left to play for the club after his heart.
This summer, Fabregas dented his legendary status at Arsenal when he openly declared his intention not to sign a new contract. What really hurt the fans was the way he went about it and the reasons he gave as well.
Despite those off-the-field shenanigans, you can’t fault van Persie’s exploits when donning the Red and White of Arsenal.
Here’s to the Flying Dutchman on his 29th birthday.
A tale of technique, precision and class.