5 Memorable Moments for Manchester United and Holland Man Robin Van Persie
This may well be Robin van Persie's last World Cup. The Dutchman is set to turn 31 years old in two months. If he is to be invited back in 2018, it is likely he would only play a peripheral role.
This means 2014 is likely his last chance to really shine for his country.
As the captain of Holland, with a fantastic goalscoring record, there have been numerous highlights throughout his international career. However, not everything has been rosy for him on international duty.
What are his most memorable moments?
First World Cup Goal: 2006
Van Persie couldn't hold down a place in Arsenal's starting line-up, but he was still chosen by Marco van Basten for the Dutch squad in the 2006 World Cup finals.
The first goal he ever scored for his country was in qualification for this tournament. It was the fourth in a 4-0 win over Finland.
The next time he scored was at the World Cup a year later. He played in all four of Holland's matches and scored his only goal in the group stage against the Ivory Coast. Van Persie was fouled outside of the area and scored a fantastic goal from the resulting free-kick.
World Cup Final: 2010
From a personal standpoint, Van Persie had a disappointing World Cup in 2010, scoring just one goal. However, he came incredibly close to enjoying collective success when Holland reached the final.
The Daily Mail reported on Van Persie's hopes before the game:
Things have not always gone my way in this World Cup but we have been so strong as a team because nobody made himself more important than the others.
I would rather be a world champion and not score, than score against Spain and lose the match. The team have to get the right result. That is more important for me than anything.
This final is going to be the biggest test for my generation of players but it’s not just a climax for me or the team; it’s a World Cup in which the whole Dutch nation are involved.
The game went to extra time with the score 0-0, and with just a few minutes remaining before a seemingly inevitable penalty shootout, Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta scored and the match finished 1-0.
Van Persie was hardly involved in the game, with his teammates struggling to provide him with any decent service. Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique also did a great job of keeping the Dutchman out of the game.
After Wesley Sneijder was left out of Louis van Gaal's Holland squad for a friendly against Portugal, Van Persie was confirmed as the new Dutch captain.
Van Gaal demoted Sneijder from his job as team captain, saying he wasn’t in good enough shape to be chosen to play and therefore couldn't be skipper, as reported by Sky Sports:
The new captain is Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben will be it after him. If he can become fit again then he can battle with other players in the squad. And I expect that an in-form Sneijder will play. But he really has to work hard for that.
All-Time Top Scorer: 2013
Having turned 30 a few months earlier, Van Persie replaced Patrick Kluivert as Holland's all-time top scorer after scoring three goals against Hungary in 2013.
Van Persie has now scored five more goals than any player in Dutch history. Importantly, the only other players close to Van Persie's record who haven't retired are Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Sneijder.
Van Persie has scored nine and 19 more goals than these two players respectively, meaning it is likely he will keep this record for some time.
Scoring Twice Against Spain: 2014
In the opening game of the 2014 World Cup for Holland, they faced the tough task of playing current European and world champions Spain.
Nobody could have predicted what would happen.
After going a goal behind thanks to a soft penalty awarded to Spain, Van Persie scored one of the goals of the tournament so far when diving from almost 20 yards out to loop a header over the head of Iker Casillas.
Later, with the Dutch 3-1 up, Van Persie put Casillas under pressure, stole the ball off him and slotted in to the open net.
Van Persie spoke to NOS after the 5-1 win, as Mark Doyle reported for Goal.com:
This is unreal. This is a dream come true for Netherlands. Sometimes inexplicable things happen. We must not forget that we only have three points. We must now continue. That is the reality.
The whole country must enjoy this. I scored the equaliser in a perfect moment for us. We went to the dressing room with a good feeling. The 2-1 goal from Arjen Robben was scored in a fantastic moment.
For them it was a huge blow. After that we continued. Often you stop after 3-1. But we kept going and going. All credit to the coach. These are his tactics. He already predicted how the match would go. Incredible.
Everyone must enjoy this now. Tomorrow we will continue. Tomorrow we'll focus on Australia. Holland must party now. I can't wait to see those pictures. Have fun!