Arsenal’s Century Club – Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The son of two artists, he was encouraged to follow in his parents’ footsteps, but he preferred football.
He joined Dutch side SBV Excelsior’s youth squad at the age of 14 years, but left at the age of 15 and signed for Feyenoord. He was quickly promoted into the first team due to injury problems among the squad, and made his debut for the club at 17, which was the first of 15 total starts. He received the KNVB Best Young Talent award at the end of the 2001–02 season and then signed a professional three-and-a-half-year contract the following season. Clashes with his manager Bert van Marwijk saw him demoted to the reserve squad, he finished his tumultuous debut season on the first team, making a total of 28 appearances and scoring eight goals, in addition to finishing runner-up in the KNVB Cup. Feyenoord unsuccessfully attempted to extend his contract during the off-season. His deteriorating relationship with van Marwijk led to his spending most of the 2003–04 season on the bench. He again played 28 matches, but finished with two fewer goals than the previous season.
On 17 May 2004, Robin signed a four-year deal with Arsenal for £2.75 million, just over half of Feyenoord’s original asking price of £5 million. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, who planned to convert him from a left winger to a centre forward, said of his new acquisition, “He can play on the left side of midfield, as a creative player behind the main strikers or as a target man. Robin spent most of his time on the bench during earlier parts of the 2004–05 season, and made his competitive debut on 27 October by scoring Arsenal’s opening goal in a 2–1 League Cup win over Manchester City. He was sent off for the first time, in an Arsenal shirt, on 26 February against Southampton, following a lunge at left back Graeme Le Saux, for which Wenger was seen yelling an obscenity at him from the sidelines. He then later lambasted him in the press stating “I do not support Van Persie today” Telegraph sportswriter Clive White described Van Persie in his match report as “21 going on nine.” He was consequently benched for a number of games, starting with Arsenal’s FA Cup replay against Sheffield United, and he was reintroduced into the squad only after Henry was out with a calf injury, his return to the first team saw him score twice in a FA Cup semi-final win over Blackburn Rovers. The rest of his season was cut short by injury, and he finished with ten goals in 41 appearances in all competitions.
Robin’s good form at the start of the 2005–06 season earned him the Player of the Month award for November 2005 after eight goals in eight starts, and he was rewarded with a five-year contract extension until 2011. Two days after signing the contract, however, he was once again hit by injury when an opponent stepped on his foot and broke his toe during an FA Cup match.
The beginning of the 2006–07 season included an airborne volley against Charlton Athletic that Arsene called “the goal of a lifetime” and he was later named BBC Sport’s Goal of the Month for September, and he capped off the calendar year by being named the 2006 Rotterdam Sportsman of the Year. His season, however, ended early for the second time in his career on 21 January, when he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. After the departure of Thierry Henry he assumed the role as Arsenal’s main striker. Following a streak of seven goals in ten regular-season games, he was sidelined for two months with a knee injury suffered on international duty. He made his comeback in Arsenal’s Champions League group stage on 12 December and made his Premier League return in the win against Chelsea over the weekend. However, he picked up a recurrent injury that kept him sidelined until January when he played 45 minutes in a League Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur. He was withdrawn at half-time following another injury scare and featured sporadically throughout the rest of the campaign. The following season (2008–09) he was named as the Arsenal.com Player of the Season. With only one year remaining of his contract, it was announced in July that he had signed a new long-term contract with his club, stating, “My heart is with Arsenal and I just can’t picture myself in a different shirt.”
On 14 November 2009, he injured his ankle in an international friendly and was initially expected to be out for six weeks, but further tests showed that he would be out for five months. Before the start of the 2010–11 season, his squad number was changed to number 10. He made his 200th appearance in August but an ankle injury suffered in the game placed him on the sidelines once again. He returned as a substitute for Arsenal’s
0–1 defeat to Newcastle United on 7 November. On 1 January 2011, he scored his first goal of the season in a 3–0 away win over Birmingham City. On 15 January, he added two more goals to his tally in a comfortable 3–0 win over West Ham. This made him only the fourth Dutchman to reach 50 goals in England’s top division. Robin scored his first career hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Wigan Athletic on 22 January and two goals against Newcastle United in a 4–4 draw on 5 February. Continuing his fine form, he hit a brace the following week against Wolverhampton Wanderers scoring both Arsenal goals in a 2–0 win including a volley from inside the box. The ten goals he scored between 1 January and 12 February set a new Premier League record for most goals scored in the first two months of a calendar year.
He set the Emirates alight with a goal from an almost impossible angle in Arsenal’s fight back against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 which ended 2–1 in favour of the Gunners. On 27 February 2011, Van Persie captained Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in the League Cup final, scoring the first half equalizer for the Gunners. It was his first goal at Wembley and his first in a cup final for Arsenal. However, he was later taken off in the second half with a knee injury he picked up while scoring the goal. He was voted as the second best player of the 2010–11 season on Arsenal’s official website and also received the team’s Goal of the Season award for his audacious strike in the 2–1 victory over Barcelona in the Champions League.
Having been appointed vice-captain for the 2010–11 season, he was promoted to club captain at the start of the 2011–12 season. He finished the season as the top goal-scorer in the Premier League with 30 goals, and became Arsenal’s 8th all-time top scorer with 132 goals.
On 4 July 2012, he announced that he would not be signing a new contract with Arsenal.
Finally after a series of rumours he was transferred to Manchester United for a reported £22.5 million. Supporters of Manchester United voted Van Persie as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for the 2012–13 season.
His 100th goal was his 2nd of the game in a 2-0 win against Sunderland on Oct 16th, 2011 at Highbury.
|Arsenal’s Century Club|
|** Games played to reach 100 goals.|
32 thoughts on “Arsenal Best Attacker Ever: Nr13 – We Loathe Him So Much Because We Loved Him So Much”
Thank you, GN5, for a detailed post on a player who we invested so much time and effort in and when he finally started to deliver he opted to leave us for a major, and much loathed, rival. I don’t think there is an Arsenal player I detest more than him. Enough said about him.
TA, My belief is that a player has a short career and has every right to maximize his earnings, today’s players are no longer loyal to their club they are loyal to their bank account. I think he did us proud when he wore the Arsenal shirt and that’s all we can really ask for – it’s their agents that turn the players heads and they are the ones that we should blame.
He was a flair player and video’s of his highlights with Arsenal show just how good a player he was – and to add further to the point he is one of only nineteen players in our entire history who scored 100 or more goals in an Arsenal shirt.. I hold no grudges, although I can understand why people do..
We brought van Persie over from the Netherlands, gave him a home and then stood by him during his rape allegations and all of his injuries. He was the captain of our team and was nurtured and valued. After one good season, he left us for our main rival. Van Persie is the biggest snake I can recall in an Arsenal shirt. And I’ve been a Gooner for 43 years.
The name we gave him: van Judas pretty much summed it up.
Apparently lots of fans hate him for heading to the reds and aiming for a higher salary.. apparently after his short stint at manu** he was a journeyman after that.
I can say that he left due to lack of playing opportunities and we had many strikers, and of course the money came after that. Giroud came in and we had many strikers, so he could only play him a few times in his last season with us.
GN5, good to say that they are only loyal to their bank account. I hope our youngsters do not think that way though.
I would take RVP over Cashley and the chinless wonder (nasri) any day of the week. It’s just so bloody frustrating that he spent so much time injured snd when he finally got fit he followed the Frank Stapleton route to United. It felt like a kick in the teeth at the time and time hasn’t healed things much.
I try not to jump on the populism train (a phrase that make sense in Hungarian, but probably gibberish in English) by saying that given the astronomical salaries of top players income shouldn’t be an issue – especially as it is disconnected from the standard of living – but I have to say that salary and silverware is not everything. There are other factors such as legacy, popularity and legend status. RvP and Alexis both had good chances to see their statues outside the Emirates (and even pursuing their career in coaching) but they give up on that.
But what I find really annoying in their cases is that they kind of robbed the club from serious dozens of millions. I honestly believe that Fabregas, RvP and Alexis were at least as good as Modric, Bale, Suarez or Coutinho, but while the latter players were sold at (or even beyond) their market value we ‘managed’ to sell our key players at 50% discount – largely contributing to the club’s downfall. Yes, this is in part the responsibility of Wenger and Gazidis, but the most blame is on the players. When they (or their agents) announce in the press that they are not signing new deals the club’s negotiating position crashes. With the money missing from those 3 transactions we could have bought star players, and we wouldn’t have to count the points missing from the 4th spot.
So while the club departed RvP by the usual cliché “we wish him all the best” I admit that I didn’t share this benevolence. And I’m quite happy that after the initial succesful year his club career was all downhill from both performance- and salary-wise. But it didn’t stop me from rooting him, Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, Huntelaar and the rest of the Dutch team in 2014 WC.
I can understand why some fans – many fans perhaps – have a downer on Van Persie, I was very disappointed when he left, but I think again that it was a failure of the club and management in not deciding his contract sooner, just as we saw with Ramsey, Edu, Wilford, Alexis and many others, in fact we may see it repeated again with Saka and Aubameyang?
I remember going to the Hawthorns in our final game of 2011/12, it was one of those last day miracles when Arsenal snatched a CL spot on the final day. Arsenal won 3-2 in a tense game and Van Persie had a great influential game. At the end it was party time in the visitors section.
The players cavorted in front of us at our end in celebration and then went off, all except Van Persie, who took a bit of time with us away fans sharing the moment, but I could sense that he was saying goodbye because there seemed a bit of a sadness in his eyes.
Do I blame him for leaving? Not really.
Did the club lack ambition at the time? Yes, I think so.
Was he right to publish an open letter to the fans criticising the club? No, I think he says much the same now himself.
To me it was a very sad parting of the ways which could and should have been avoided, nobody came out of it smelling of roses.
Another fine effort GunnerN5
I get the idea that players want to maximise their income in a relatively short career. But Van Persie did all of that Arsenal DNA stuff and then he went to Red Nose’s team, of all teams, anyway. And when you read your post GN5 it is clear how much Arsene/Arsenal invested in him and how much he owed us. Arenal were on the brink of a new era with more money available and now capable of hanging on to players. he abandoned us and although Wenger had god-like qualities he was of course unable to sign for VP himself. Most despicable three Arsenal players ever:
1. Robin van Persie
2. Robin van Persie
3. Robin van Persie
Welcome Nigel, I think you summarised it well with that comment.
Since VanP left, the club have not signed another Dutchman; all the good work Bergkamp had done in promoting Dutch footballers to the club was undone by the letter-writing, Wenger undermining, fool.
I respect all views and I can see where you are coming from, Retsub, Kev, but on this one I will not budge. 🙂
Point taken Total… 😉
Kev, are taxis still grounded in London? Are you reading any books to keep you busy (if so)?
I agree that Cole was a big disappointment but it all happened early in his career and the club may have been too hesitant back then. Nasri was a mercenary and as we bought him from Marseille and he had no allegiance to us, I could live with his decision to go for the money of Citeh. As you will have noticed from my comments, I reckon what vP did was so much worse. 😕
Nice praise for David Luiz:
“Nor will one particular Flamengo fan watching from London. When it is suggested that he is David Luiz’s hero now, Pablo Marí laughs. “I don’t think I’m his idol, but we did talk about the final. He’s helped me loads: anything I needed, he was there. David is so intelligent, great in the dressing room, always joking but the first to pull on his overalls to work.”
I thought this post on RVP would create some controversy and it has, I guess we all have different viewpoints but I prefer to remember the great games he had for Arsenal. But If I let my mind drift I could very easily join those who are still upset .
Thank you for the comments.
The next three players in the Arsenal Century Club are among my all time favourites – and not at all controversial..
T A no problem at all. many of these views are based on individual experience. When I was a bit younger i used to go to a certain number of away games, as I grew older I only went to Charlton. I knew someone in the ticket office. It just so happened that RVP scored one of my favourite goals there. Still not on my Christmas list though.
Hey Retsub, I believe VP himself believes that is his best goal ever. I will put up a link…
Here is Pudsie’s wonder volley
Total, if you are a taxi driver and you live in London, then it’s no hardship to have a drive around and see if there’s any work, but for me it’s a 70 mile round trip so I’ve stayed at home since March 20th. My son works for Thames water and he tells me what it’s been like in Central London and according to him it’s dead on the streets…
Any hope that we had in the Licenced trade of the government utilising us for transporting NHS staff has been dashed as serial tax avoiders Uber has been used for that.
Which is quite strange as the NHS has continually complained that is underfunded yet it encourages its staff to use a company that conservatively own the taxman tens of millions, maybe someone in the NHS got a backhanded?
There are definitely politicians and ex-politicians who have done very well financially out of Uber by encouraging this tax avoiding organisation, that incidentally lost its license to operate twice, but it is still operating! Yes, where there’s money to made you’ll always find politicians….
Sounds like you have made the right decision, Kev. Sorry to hear the Uber-competition is so much skewed and the role of politicians in all of it. Keep truckin’ my friend.
Thanks T A great memories. Interesting to listen to the build up. Hoyte, Gilberto, Hleb, , Eboue, RVP.
Instead of watching van Judas, this is something from another dear left footed striker from one of our own: Jose Antonio Reyes
The Bergkamp documentary is up TA. Maybe you can put it somewhere special on this site?
Thanks 84, it has been added to ‘DB10 tributes’, a separate page that can accessed at the top of the blog.
Retsub, it is one of those goals you score yourself in your mind many times. The power was incredible, it would have beaten seven goallies at once.
Cheers 84, I watched it on TV via YouTube, it was excellent…
A lot of debate regarding restarting the season or cancelling it?
I’m not sure about playing in neutral grounds, what about home advantage even if the ground is empty? I’m certain that the views of the TV companies will hold sway.
New Post 🙂