Robin van Persie

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Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie ManUtd (cropped).jpg
Van Persie with Manchester United in 2013
Personal information
Full name Robin van Persie[1]
Date of birth (1983-08-06) 6 August 1983 (age 31)[1]
Place of birth Rotterdam, Netherlands
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[2]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Manchester United
Number 20
Youth career
1997–1999 Excelsior
1998–2001 Feyenoord
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2001–2004 Feyenoord 61 (15)
2004–2012 Arsenal 194 (96)
2012– Manchester United 75 (45)
National team
2000 Netherlands U17 6 (0)
2001 Netherlands U19 6 (0)
2002–2005 Netherlands U21 12 (1)
2005– Netherlands 96 (49)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 04:05, 21 December 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 16 November 2014

Robin van Persie (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈrɔbɪn vɑn ˈpɛrsi] ( ); born 6 August 1983) is a Dutch footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United and is the captain of the Netherlands national team. He is a youth product of Feyenoord.[3] Having joined Arsenal in 2004, Van Persie became the club captain on 16 August 2011, one year before he joined rivals Manchester United.[4][5] He is recognised as one of the best strikers in the world.[6][7] His playing style and ability have drawn comparison to Dutch legend Marco van Basten.[8][9]

The son of two artists, Van Persie was encouraged to follow in his parents' footsteps,[10] but he instead preferred football and joined SBV Excelsior's youth squad. He made his breakthrough at another hometown club Feyenoord, where he spent three seasons and won the 2002 UEFA Cup.[11] He was named the Dutch Football Talent of the Year for the 2001–02 season. Disagreements with manager Bert van Marwijk culminated in a change of club and Van Persie moved to Premier League side Arsenal for £2.75 million in 2004 as a long-term replacement for Dennis Bergkamp.[12][13] He won the FA Community Shield and the FA Cup in his first season with the London club but did not win another major trophy for the rest of his eight-year spell at Arsenal. After joining Manchester United in 2012, Van Persie won the Premier League title in his first season at Old Trafford and finished as the league's top scorer with 26 goals. Van Persie has been named Premier League Player of the Month five times. In 2013, he was ranked 11th in The Guardian newspaper's list of the 100 best players in the world.[14]

Van Persie was a Dutch youth international, having represented the Netherlands under-17, under-19 and under-21 sides. He made his senior international debut in 2005 in a friendly match against Romania. One month later, he scored his first senior international goal in a 4–0 win over Finland. Van Persie has 96 caps and has scored 49 goals for the Netherlands, making him their top scorer of all time.[15][16] He has represented his country at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, and the 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Championships.

Club career

Feyenoord

Van Persie joined Dutch side SBV Excelsior's youth squad when he was five, but left at the age of 15, due to the relationship with the coach and his mother, and thus signed for Feyenoord.[17] He was quickly promoted into the first team due to injury problems among the squad, and made his debut for the club at 17, the first of 15 total starts during the 2001–02 season. After starting for Feyenoord in the final of the UEFA Cup, Van Persie received the KNVB Best Young Talent award.

The following season, Van Persie signed a professional three-and-a-half-year contract with Feyenoord, and scored five goals in a 6–1 KNVB Cup thrashing of AGOVV Apeldoorn on 6 February 2003.[18] However, clashes with his manager Bert van Marwijk saw Van Persie demoted to the reserve squad, and an irate Van Marwijk told reporters, "His behaviour made it impossible for him to remain in the squad any longer so he will join the reserve side for the time being."[19] During a match featuring the Feyenoord and Ajax reserves, he was one of several Feyenoord players assaulted by hooligans who had invaded the pitch.[17] Van Persie's rift with Van Marwijk continued when he was sent home on the eve of the 2002 UEFA Super Cup final against Real Madrid after the coach was displeased with Van Persie's body language after being asked to warm up for a Champions League qualifier.[20] Van Persie finished his tumultuous first full season with the first team, making a total of 28 appearances and scoring eight goals, in addition to finishing runner-up in the KNVB Cup.

I don't see things the way my parents do. They can look at a tree and see something amazing, whereas I just see a tree. That's not to say I don't appreciate its beauty. When I watch the sea in somewhere like Sardinia, I see the beauty in that. But I think there is a creative connection with my parents. It's hard to explain in words, hard to put my finger on it. But I think football is where my creativity comes out.

Robin van Persie[10]

Feyenoord unsuccessfully attempted to extend Van Persie's contract during the off-season, and 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. Feyenoord shopped him at the end of the campaign but found few takers due to Van Persie's past disciplinary issues. During the January transfer window, the Eredivisie club opened negotiations with Arsenal, who were seeking a long-term replacement for aging veteran Dennis Bergkamp, but both parties could not agree to terms.

Arsenal

2004–05

On 17 May 2004, Van Persie signed a four-year deal with Arsenal for £2.75 million, just over half of Feyenoord's original asking price of £5 million.[21] Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, who planned to convert Van Persie from a left winger to a centre forward as he had successfully done with star player Thierry Henry,[22] 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."[23][24] Arsenal had further padded their stable of strikers in January by signing Spanish forward José Antonio Reyes,[25] leaving the two to battle for playing time. Van Persie made his debut and won a trophy in the process, as he came on as a substitute in the 3–1 FA Community Shield victory over Manchester United on 8 August 2004. Van Persie 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.

It was the goal of a lifetime. He's played for a long time and I'm not sure he's scored one like that.

Arsène Wenger, regarding Van Persie's goal against Charlton Athletic in the 2006–07 Premier League[26]

He was sent off for the first time, however, in an Arsenal shirt on 26 February during a 1–1 road draw with Southampton, following a lunge at left-back Graeme Le Saux, for which Wenger was seen yelling an obscenity at Van Persie from the sidelines. He then later lambasted his charge in the press. "I do not support Van Persie today, but he did not look out of control at half-time. When the referee has sent off a home player, he is under pressure, so, if any player had to behave, it was him." Meanwhile, Telegraph sportswriter Clive White described Van Persie in his match report as "21 going on nine."[27] Van Persie was consequently benched for a number of games, starting with Arsenal's upcoming FA Cup replay against Sheffield United,[28] and he was reintroduced into the squad only after Henry was out with a calf injury, and his return to the first team saw him score twice in a FA Cup semi-final win over Blackburn Rovers. The rest of Van Persie's season was cut short by injury, and he finished with ten goals in 41 appearances in all competitions.[29]

2005–06

After the retirement of Dennis Bergkamp, Van Persie regularly partnered Thierry Henry up front in the Arsenal attack

Van Persie'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,[22] and he was rewarded with a five-year contract extension until 2011 on 4 January.[30] Two days after signing the contract, however, Van Persie was again hit by injury when an opponent stepped on his foot and broke his toe during an FA Cup match against Cardiff.[31]

Van Persie played the next three matches with a hole cut into his shoe to alleviate the pain until he was finally rested for Arsenal's Premier League match against West Ham United on 1 February.[20] He was an unused substitute in Arsenal's first Champions League final appearance, a 2–1 loss to FC Barcelona.[32]

2006–07

The beginning of the 2006–07 season included an airborne volley against Charlton Athletic that Wenger called "the goal of a lifetime"[33] and was later named BBC Sport's Goal of the Month for September,[34] 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 while celebrating his late equalizer in a match against Manchester United.[35] Although Van Persie was injured for a large part of the season he still managed to finish as Arsenal's top goalscorer with 13 goals in all competitions.

2007–08

Van Persie in 2007

After Henry departed for Barcelona prior to the 2007–08 season, Van Persie assumed the role as Arsenal's main striker. Following a streak of seven goals in ten regular-season games, Van Persie was sidelined for two months with a knee injury suffered on international duty.[36] He made his comeback in Arsenal's Champions League group stage win over Steaua București on 12 December and made his Premier League return in the win against Chelsea over the weekend. He picked up, however, 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.[37]

2008–09

Van Persie and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in 2008

Van Persie opened his 2008–09 account on 31 August with a brace in Arsenal's 3–0 league victory over Newcastle United.[38] On 29 October, he scored his fiftieth career Arsenal goal in a 4–4 home draw with North London derby rivals Tottenham, but was hit with his first red card of the season on 1 November after knocking down goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen with a shoulder charge in a 2–1 loss to Stoke City. Sørensen later admitted to "teasing" Van Persie in an attempt to provoke a reaction.[39] On 30 November, he scored a brace against Chelsea to help Arsenal come from behind and pick up a 2–1 victory at Stamford Bridge.[40] On 21 December 2008, he scored a spectacular goal against Liverpool, which was later named the second BBC Goal of the Month of his career.[41] With captain Cesc Fàbregas injured and regular stand-in skipper Manuel Almunia rested, Van Persie captained Arsenal for the first time on 3 January 2009 for the club's 3–1 third-round FA Cup victory over Plymouth Argyle.[42] Van Persie scored Arsenal's first and third goals, while the second was a result of his cross being deflected into the net by a Plymouth player for an own goal.[43] In January 2009, every Arsenal goal that month was either scored or assisted by Van Persie, which earned him the club's Player of the Month award.[44] His most inspirational display being against Hull City, where he struck the post with a freekick, and provided three assists to his team-mates; he later received the Man of the Match award. On 24 February, Van Persie scored a crucial penalty that earned Arsenal a 1–0 win over Roma in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 encounter, after he was fouled by defender Philippe Mexès.[45] He followed it up with a fifth Champions League goal by converting another penalty against Villarreal in a 3–0 victory. On the final day of the Premier League, Van Persie scored a brace against Stoke City, which guaranteed him for the second time in his career as Arsenal's top scorer. He had his best season overall for Arsenal as he scored 11 Premier League goals, along with a league-leading 11 assists and a career-best of 20 goals in all competitions. Van Persie was named the 2008–09 Arsenal.com Player of the Season.[46]

2009–10

Van Persie in 2009
Van Persie taking a penalty kick in 2009

With only one year remaining of his contract, Van Persie was in negotiations with Arsenal about an extension for several months in 2009. Finally, 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."[47] The departure of Emmanuel Adebayor also meant that the Dutchman was now the main striker in Wenger's 4–3–3 system. Van Persie started the 2009–10 season with two assists in the first match against Everton, which led to a 6–1 victory. As one of the first choice penalty and corner takers, he has set up many of Arsenal's goals, including Thomas Vermaelen's debut goal against Everton. He scored his first goal of the season in the 4–2 loss at Eastlands to Manchester City, where he later had his head stomped on by former team-mate Adebayor (an act the referee failed to notice, but the FA later charged Adebayor with violent conduct and served him with a three-game suspension).[48] He then scored goals against Olympiacos, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, West Ham United, and Tottenham. Van Persie's excellent form in October did not go unrecognised as he was named Barclays Player of the Month for October, his second such award.[49] On 14 November, however, he injured his ankle in an international friendly and was initially expected to be out for six weeks,[50] but further tests showed that he would be out for five months. Van Persie made his return on 14 April, in a 2–1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur. He then scored a header against Blackburn Rovers in the 2–1 defeat, and a goal assisted by Theo Walcott in the 4–0 win over Fulham in the last league game of 2009–10 season.

2010–11

Van Persie in 2010

Before the start of the 2010–11 season, Van Persie changed his squad number to 10, previously worn by Arsenal and Netherlands legend Dennis Bergkamp.[51] He made his 200th appearance on 28 August but an ankle injury suffered in the same game placed him on the sidelines once again. He returned as a substitute for Arsenal's 0–1 home defeat to Newcastle United on 7 November.

"Robin van Persie's such an amazing footballer. He hardly needs any space or time to become dangerous."

Bert van Marwijk[52]

On 1 January 2011, Van Persie scored his first goal of the season in a 3–0 away win over Birmingham City.[53] 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.[54] Van Persie scored his first career hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Wigan Athletic on 22 January[55] and two goals against Newcastle United in a 4–4 draw on 5 February.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58]

Van Persie with Cesc Fàbregas and Sergio Busquets in a Champions League match in 2011.

Van Persie set the Emirates alight with a goal from an almost impossible angle in Arsenal's fightback against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, which ended 2–1 in favour of the Gunners.[59] 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.

On 1 March 2011, he was ruled out for three weeks, which would see him miss the Champions League return leg with Barcelona. However, he recovered in time for the return leg at Camp Nou. During the game, he received a yellow card in the first half for a foul. In the second half, he was sent off after he received a second yellow card when the referee, Massimo Busacca, deemed him to be time-wasting by taking a shot at goal after the whistle was blown (one second earlier) for offside. Barcelona went on to score twice more and advanced to the quarter finals on a 4–3 aggregate result. Afterwards, Van Persie described the Busacca's decision as a "total joke", claiming that with the noise of the 95,000-strong crowd he could not hear the whistle. On 19 March 2011, he scored the equalizing goal in a 2–2 against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. The match finished 2–2 with Arsenal still five points behind the current leaders, Manchester United.

On 10 April 2011 in a match against Blackpool, Van Persie put in a man of the match performance to give Arsenal a crucial 3–1 win as Van Persie set up a goal and scored the 3rd. On 24 April 2011, Van Persie became the first player to score in seven successive Premier League away games when he scored against Bolton, beating Didier Drogba's record who was on six successive away games, between August and November 2009. However, the Gunners lost 2–1, all but ending their title hopes. On 1 May he assisted Aaron Ramsey who scored the winning goal against league leaders Manchester United to add a twist to the Premier League. Van Persie was named EA Sports Player of the Month for April.[60]

On 8 May 2011, Arsenal lost 3–1 against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, Van Persie scored the goal for Arsenal and with that goal Van Persie extended his Premier League record by scoring in an eighth successive away match. On the last home game for the season Van Persie scored against Aston Villa, but Arsenal lost the match 2–1. On the last game of the season away to Fulham, Van Persie managed to score in his ninth consecutive away match, bringing his goal tally for the season to a personal record of 18 league goals. He also equalled the record held by Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry by scoring 18 league goals from the turn of the year to the end of the season. He ended the season just two goals behind joint league top scorers, Carlos Tévez and Dimitar Berbatov in the race for the golden boot, despite being injured for half of the season. 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.

2011–12

Van Persie celebrates scoring with Theo Walcott in 2011.
Van Persie was named captain of Arsenal for the 2011–12 season.

Having been appointed vice-captain for the 2010–11 season, Van Persie was promoted to club captain following the transfer of Cesc Fàbregas to FC Barcelona at the start of the 2011–12 season.[61] On 24 August, Van Persie scored his first goal of the 2011–12 season in the second leg of Arsenal's 2–1 away victory against Udinese in a Champions League play off match. On 24 September 2011, Van Persie scored twice against Bolton Wanderers to raise his tally for Arsenal to 100 goals, he became the 17th Arsenal player to reach this milestone. On 16 October 2011, Van Persie scored the fastest goal of the 2011–12 Premier League season, 28 seconds into a home match against Sunderland.[62] He went on to score a late winner from a curling left foot free kick, to put Arsenal 2–1 ahead. After the match, Van Persie stated his dedication to the club after speculation surrounding a future transfer away from the Emirates. On 23 October, Van Persie came on as a substitute on the 66th minute replacing Marouane Chamakh and scored two goals against Stoke City. The match ended 3–1 with another home win for Arsenal.[63] He then continued his scoring run for Arsenal on 29 October by scoring a hat-trick in Arsenal's 5–3 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.[64] Due to his consistent performances and good goal-scoring form, Van Persie was named the Premier League Player of the Month for October 2011. Van Persie continued scoring as he scored Arsenal's opening goal of the match in their 3–0 win over West Bromwich Albion on 5 November along with two assists. Then after the international break Van Persie scored both Arsenal goals against Norwich City to help the Gunners to a 2–1 win on 19 November 2011.[65] In Van Persie's fifth Champions League match of the season he scored twice in the 49th and 86th minute to lift Arsenal to a 2–1 victory over Borussia Dortmund and to qualify Arsenal for the knockout phase on 23 November 2011.[66]

After failing to score against Fulham, Van Persie scored again for Arsenal, this time against Wigan Athletic to make the score 4–0 to Arsenal on 3 December 2011.[67] He then added to his tally with the only goal of the game against Everton, an exquisite volley from an Alex Song long ball.[68] The following match, versus Aston Villa, saw him score a penalty and provide an assist.[69] Van Persie's final goal of the 2011 calendar year came in Arsenal's one-goal win over Queens Park Rangers on the last day of the year. The goal took his tally for the year to 35 goals, one short of Alan Shearer's Premier League record.[70]

Van Persie playing against Swansea City in 2011
Van Persie holding off Nathan Dyer and Neil Taylor of Swansea City

The following calendar year started in the same fashion for Van Persie, but Arsenal began to falter, losing three consecutive matches against Fulham, Manchester United and Swansea City, even though Van Persie scored in the latter two. On 29 January, he rescued his team, scoring two penalties against Aston Villa in the fourth-round of the FA Cup to help Arsenal to a 3–2 win after falling 2–0 down in a Man of the Match performance. It was also his 120th goal in an Arsenal shirt, equalling fellow Dutch legend Dennis Bergkamp's total. On 4 February, he overtook Bergkamp as the 10th highest scorer in Arsenal's history,[71] scoring another hat-trick as Arsenal beat Blackburn 7–1 at home, with three close-range goals from crosses by Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin. He was also credited with two assists in the game as he set up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's first Premier League goal and unselfishly passed to Thierry Henry enabling him to score his first Premier League goal since returning on loan.[72] With Arsenal in unpredictable form, Van Persie was again of supreme importance for Arsenal, this time in the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, played on 26 February. Arsenal went 2–0 down at half in the first half, but Van Persie equalized before half-time. In the second half, Van Persie gave the assist to Walcott's goal as Arsenal performed a remarkable comeback to win the game 5–2.[73] A week later, Van Persie scored both goals in a 2–1 away win at Liverpool, one being a left-footed volley assisted by Alex Song, similar to the goal he scored against Everton earlier in the campaign. On 11 April 2012, after scoring the penalty against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 3–0 away win, he became only the second player to score against 17 different Premier League opponents in a single campaign. Van Persie finished as the top goal-scorer in the Premier League with 30 goals,[74] and became Arsenal's 8th all-time top scorer with 132 goals.[75][76]

On 4 July 2012, Van Persie announced that he would not be signing a new contract with Arsenal.[77] [78]

Manchester United

2012–13

"I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United."
"From my side, and Arsenal as well, there are no hard feelings. There were certain elements which were vital to me that we had a different view. That is life. Nobody is angry at me and I'm not angry at them."[79]

Robin van Persie, in regards to his transfer to Manchester United

On 15 August 2012, Arsenal announced they had agreed terms with Manchester United for his transfer, but Van Persie had yet to agree personal terms with the club.[5] On 17 August, Van Persie transferred to Manchester United for an initial £22.5 million, with an additional £1.5 million to follow if United won a Premier League or Champions League title within the next four years. He signed a four-year contract, keeping him at the club until June 2016.[80][81] van Persie chose the number 20 shirt after assistant coach Rene Meulensteen convinced him that he would help secure Manchester United's 20th league title.[82]

He made his debut on 20 August, coming on as a 68th-minute substitute for Danny Welbeck in a 1–0 loss to Everton.[83] Five days later, with his first shot for the club,[84] he scored his first Manchester United goal, United's first in a 3–2 home victory over Fulham.[85] On 2 September 2012, he scored his first hat-trick for United in another 3–2 victory over Southampton, helping pull United back from a 2–1 deficit; his third goal was his 100th in the Premier League.[86] Van Persie netted a late penalty on 23 September to give United a 2–1 away win at Anfield against Liverpool, and opened his European account with the club, scoring a brace in the 2–1 away win against CFR Cluj, with both goals assisted by Wayne Rooney. On 20 October, Van Persie scored United's second goal in a 4–2 win over Stoke City, opening up his body and guiding a cross into the far corner with his left foot. In the next Premier League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, he scored his 7th goal in the league, with a sidefoot finish from Antonio Valencia's driven cross to put United 2–0 up. He also played a part in the first goal, firing a shot against the post that cannoned off David Luiz and into the net, in a 3–2 United win. On 3 November, he scored against his former club Arsenal in a 2–1 victory. This meant that he had scored against all 20 current Premier League clubs. On 9 December, Van Persie scored a last minute winner from a free kick in a 3–2 victory over Manchester City, his Manchester Derby debut.[87] This goal ended City's unbeaten Premier League record in the 2012–13 season and also their unbeaten home record extending into the previous season.

After scoring against Everton on 10 February 2013, Van Persie went ten games without scoring, finally ending his barren run when he scored a penalty against Stoke on 14 April.[88][89] Against Queens Park Rangers on 23 February, he had to be substituted after falling against a television camera and injuring a hip,[90] but was fit for United's next match.[91]

On 22 April 2013, he netted an impressive first-half hat-trick against Aston Villa, confirming Manchester United's 20th league title with four games in hand. His second goal came from a Rooney pass from behind the half way line, which he volleyed into the net from outside the box.[92]

Supporters of Manchester United voted Van Persie as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for the 2012–13 season.[93] Van Persie was nominated by UEFA into the 10-man shortlist for the 2012–13 Best Player in Europe award.[94]

2013–14

Van Persie kick-started his new campaign by scoring both of Manchester United's goals in their 2–0 win against Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield, securing David Moyes' first honour as club manager.

He scored twice more in the first Premier League match of the season, against Swansea City, for the first of which "he chested it down and executed a crisp, instant scissor-kick into the net".[95]

On 19 March 2014, Van Persie scored a hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Olympiacos in the second leg of the Champions League second round to send United through to the quarter-finals 3–2 on aggregate.[96]

2014–15

Van Persie scored his first goal for the season in his fourth league appearance in a 5–3 defeat to Leicester city on 21 September 2014.[97] He scored again in the next game against West Ham, helping United win the game 2–1.[98]

On 26 October 2014, in a clash over title-rival Chelsea, Van Persie scored a dramatic late equaliser to earn a point for United. In the dying minutes of the injury time, Fellaini's header from Di María's free-kick was saved by Courtois, and Van Persie smashed in the rebound to equalise.[99] Van Persie celebrated the goal by taking his shirt off and was booked for his action. His goal celebration was also labelled "stupid" by United coach Van Gaal.[100]

International career

U21 career

Van Persie (right) and Ruud van Nistelrooy training with the Netherlands

Van Persie was a U-21 international and took part in the 2004 and 2006 European Championship qualifying. Van Persie was used in a wider role as a left wing due to the preference of the experienced Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the striker role.[101] The Jong Oranje failed to qualify for the 2004 tournament and Van Persie did not participate in the latter as he was already in the senior squad for the FIFA World Cup. He earned his first caps for the Netherlands in less than the span of a week, first in a 2–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Romania on 4 June 2005,[102][103] and in another qualifier four days later against Finland, which saw him pick up his first international goal in a 4–0 victory.[104]

2006 FIFA World Cup

Despite not being a regular starter for Arsenal, Van Persie was part of coach Marco van Basten's roster for the 2006 World Cup finals. He played in all four of the Netherlands' matches and scored his only goal in the group stage against Côte d'Ivoire via a free kick as Oranje were eliminated in the Round of 16.[105][106]

UEFA Euro 2008

Van Persie scored a team-best four UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying goals,[107][108] and was deployed as a winger behind lone striker Ruud van Nistelrooy during the tournament after Van Basten decided to change to a 4–2–3–1 formation. As Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart were preferred in the midfield, Van Persie was left to battle with Arjen Robben for the remaining spot on the wing. On 13 June, he scored as a 55th-minute substitute in a 4–1 Group C victory over 2006 World Cup finalists France, and started the next match against Romania, scoring off a pass from Demy de Zeeuw with an excellent volley into the back of the net. He finished with two goals as the Netherlands finished atop their group but again suffered a first knock-out round, second stage elimination.

Post-Euro 2008

Van Persie scored in the friendlies played against Russia and Sweden, and also scored a header in a World Cup qualifying match against Scotland, which stirred debate whether he should be taking corners or receiving them. He was injured during that match and was substituted early in the second-half.

2010 FIFA World Cup

Van Persie was included in the preliminary squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.[109] On 27 May 2010, Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk announced that he was in the final squad of 23 participating in the competition.[110] Van Persie was in the starting line-up for their first match in the competition, a 2–0 victory over Denmark.[111] On 24 June, he scored the first goal against Cameroon in a 2–1 win to ensure that the Netherlands finished as group winners, and was officially named the man of the match.[112] He started every match for Oranje, though he did not increase his goal tally in the following matches. Oranje reached the 2010 World Cup Final, in which he was on the losing side due to Andrés Iniesta's extra time goal.

Van Persie attempting a shot against Denmark at UEFA Euro 2012.

UEFA Euro 2012

On 2 September 2011, Van Persie scored four goals in a record breaking 11–0 victory over San Marino. He entered the Dutch national team's top 10 all-time topscorer ranking with a tally of 25 goals, dislodging Marco van Basten in the process.[113] Van Persie had not scored four goals in a single match for a long while.[114]

On 13 June 2012, Van Persie scored the Dutch goal in a 2–1 loss to Germany in the European Championship group stage. Having missed two earlier chances, Van Persie picked up the ball near the halfway line, turned and ran at the German defence, before firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.[115]

2014 FIFA World Cup

Van Persie ended the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign as top scorer in the UEFA section with 11 goals.[116] In June 2013, he was appointed captain of the Dutch national team by manager Louis van Gaal.[117] On 11 October 2013, he became the Netherlands' top goalscorer of all-time in an 8–1 defeat of Hungary, the Dutch's penultimate Group D match, where he scored a hat-trick. This put him on 41 goals in 80 internationals, surpassing the record previously held by Patrick Kluivert.[118]

In the team's opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Van Persie captained the Netherlands to a 5–1 win over champions Spain in Salvador.[119] He scored twice in the match, one of which was a flying header which was later nominated for FIFA Puskás Award for the most beautiful goal of the year.[120] He was also named man of the match by FIFA.[121] On 18 June, he scored his third goal of the tournament in a 3–2 defeat of Australia, a result that qualified the Netherlands to the knockout stage with one group match remaining.[122]

In the quarter-final, Van Persie scored the Netherlands' first kick in a 4–3 penalty shootout defeat of Costa Rica.[123] He scored his fourth goal of the tournament from a penalty kick in a 3–0 win against Brazil in the third-place play-off.[124]

Personal life

Van Persie was born in Rotterdam to an artistic family. José Ras, his mother, is a painter and jewellery designer who also teaches special needs children.[125] Bob, his father, is a sculptor. After Van Persie's parents divorced he was brought up by his father. At school, Van Persie was one of the most misbehaved children and was excluded from class almost daily.[125] After joining Arsenal in England, Van Persie settled in Hampstead, an affluent suburb of north London. Van Persie is married to Bouchra Elbali and the couple have two children: a son named Shaqueel and daughter Dina.

In June 2005, while in Rotterdam with the Dutch national team for the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, Van Persie was arrested on suspicion of rape by Dutch police.[126] Sandra Krijgsman, a former Miss Nigeria Holland winner, claimed that she was attacked by Van Persie in a hotel.[127] He was held for fourteen nights in prison while the police investigated the allegations made against him[128] but was then released without charge, though he was still under suspicion.[129] In February 2006, the case against Van Persie was dismissed by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service after they completed their investigations stating that no sexual contact with coercion happened, with Van Persie's accuser later admitting she had made up parts of the story.[130] Van Persie admitted being unfaithful by having sex with Krijgsman, but he was forgiven by his wife.[131] Van Persie spoke of his ordeal several months later, saying how degrading the experience was and how he was treated like a criminal despite his innocence. He revealed that conditions in the prison were so hot that they caused him to lose consciousness. It also emerged that more than 200 Rotterdam police officers had attempted to view his case files, with the vast majority of them unauthorised to do so.[10][132]

Style of play

Van Persie in 2011

Van Persie started his senior club career as a left winger and possessed exceptional dribbling skills and was also a talented striker of the ball. He was bought by Arsenal as a long term replacement for Dennis Bergkamp. Manager Arsène Wenger planned to convert Van Persie from a left winger to a centre forward as he had successfully done with star player Thierry Henry. He was at first mostly deployed as a second striker in League Cup and FA Cup matches. Due to the retirement of Bergkamp and departure of Fredrik Ljungberg, Van Persie was given a starting role to play alongside Henry as a second striker. Van Persie impressed in this position, having many assists and goals to his name. Van Persie is described by Wenger as Bergkamp with goals. Van Persie is highly regarded for his dribbling and shooting technique, but has become prone to injury.[23][133][134][135][136][137] Van Persie has become a pivotal figure for club and country and this was recognised when he was named Arsenal Player of The Season for the 2008–09 season.[138][139][140] Van Persie's 50th Premier League strike made him only the fourth Dutchman to reach 50 goals in England's top division, along with Dennis Bergkamp, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.[54]

The departure of Emmanuel Adebayor and Henry meant the Dutchman was now the main striker in Wenger's 4–3–3 system, though Van Persie often dropped in the midfield to use his vision and passing skills to create chances for other attacking players in the midfield such as Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott. Van Persie topped the goal assists leader board with 11 assists in the 2008–09 Premier League season.[141] Van Persie is also a set piece specialist and a vast number of his assists come from both corners and freekicks. He is also a proven direct freekick taker scoring regularly for his club and country.[142][143]

Sponsorship

Van Persie has a sponsorship deal with German sportswear and equipment supplier, Adidas.[144] Having previously worn Adidas Predator football boots he made the transition to the Adidas F50 adiZero boots in 2013.[145]

Career statistics

Club

As of 21 December 2014[146]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other[nb 1] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Feyenoord 2001–02 Eredivisie 10 0 0 0 7 0 17 0
2002–03 23 9 3 7 2 0 28 16
2003–04 28 6 2 0 3 0 33 6
Total 61 15 5 7 12 0 78 22
Arsenal 2004–05 Premier League 26 5 5 3 3 1 6 1 1 0 41 10
2005–06 24 5 2 0 4 4 7 2 1 0 38 11
2006–07 22 11 1 0 0 0 8 2 31 13
2007–08 15 7 0 0 1 0 7 2 23 9
2008–09 28 11 6 4 0 0 10 5 44 20
2009–10 16 9 0 0 0 0 3 1 19 10
2010–11 25 18 2 1 3 1 3 2 33 22
2011–12 38 30 2 2 0 0 8 5 48 37
Total 194 96 18 10 11 6 52 20 2 0 277 132
Manchester United[147] 2012–13 Premier League 38 26 4 1 0 0 6 3 48 30
2013–14 21 12 0 0 0 0 6 4 1 2 28 18
2014–15 16 7 0 0 0 0 16 7
Total 75 45 4 1 0 0 12 7 1 2 92 55
Career total 330 156 27 18 11 6 76 27 3 2 447 209

International goals

Scores and results list Netherlands' goal tally first.[148]

Honours

Club

With the Netherlands, Van Persie reached the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Feyenoord
Arsenal
Manchester United

International

Netherlands

Individual

Notes

  1. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield.

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External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Cesc Fàbregas
Arsenal captain
2011–2012
Succeeded by
Thomas Vermaelen
Preceded by
Mark van Bommel
Netherlands captain
2012–
Succeeded by
Incumbent