Robin van Persie
- 6'0" (1.83m)
- 157 lbs (71 kg)
- August 6, 1983
With an eagle eye for goal and arguably the sweetest left boot in the game, Robin van Persie goes into the 2014 World Cup as captain of Louis Van Gaal's Netherlands side, aiming to take his nation a step further than four years ago.
Netherlands' all-time leading goalscorer reached the final in South Africa before falling to defeat to Spain and he enters the tournament in sparkling international form after finishing as the highest scorer in the UEFA qualifying with 11 goals.
Little was known about Van Persie when he first came onto Arsene Wenger's radar in 2004, but when he left Arsenal for Manchester United in 2012 he had established himself as one of the Gunners' greatest ever strikers. A young forward with Feyenoord, Van Persie had only been playing in the Eredivisie club's first-team for a couple of seasons before opting to move to London for a bargain 2.75 million pounds. Wenger transformed him from a left-winger to a forward and the results were impressive.
Handed his international debut with Netherlands in the summer of 2005, by the time the 2006 World Cup came around Van Persie had forced his way into the Dutch starting line-up. Injuries initially plagued his time with Arsenal, though early disciplinary problems abated, and his breakthrough came the season after his decent showing at Euro 2008, when he was named the Gunners' Player of the Season after scoring 20 goals in 44 appearances.
But just as he was drawing comparisons with some of the best strikers in Europe after operating as the central striker in Arsenal's 4-3-3 formation, Van Persie suffered a serious injury in a friendly international against Italy in November 2009 that ruled him out for five months. Battling back once more, he helped to lead Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup and continued to be a vital presence for his country; in October 2013 he became the Oranje's all-time leading scorer, overtaking Patrick Kluivert's haul of 40 international goals.
His form in 2011-12 as Arsenal club captain was among the best in the world as he smashed 30 league goals to win the Premier League Golden Boot and the PFA Player of the Year award. The Dutch talisman could not inspire his nation to glory, however, and despite a fine goal against Germany, Netherlands crashed out in the Euro 2012 group stages, losing all three matches.
Van Persie has always shown an admirable hunger and determination to succeed, and having endured seven barren years with the Gunners he announced that he would not be signing a new contract with the club. A week ahead of the 2012-13 season he agreed terms with Arsenal's rivals Manchester United in 24 million pound deal, becoming the first player to make the move since Viv Anderson in 1987.
The switch proved to be a shrewd piece of business by Sir Alex Ferguson as Van Persie fired United to a record-extending 20th league success with 26 league goals, including a superb volley as part of a first-half hat trick against Aston Villa to clinch the title.
However, just as it seemed his injury problems were behind him, Van Persie picked up an accumulation of niggles during the 2013-14 campaign as Manchester United lumbered to a seventh place finish -- thereby missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years.
A trademark chest and volley goal in a World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador suggests that he appears to be regaining fitness at the perfect time ahead of the World Cup and if the Dutch can successfully navigate their passage through a tricky group containing the likes of Spain, Chile and Australia, Van Persie could prove the deciding factor in the Oranje's pursuit of World Cup glory.
Strengths: Despite not possessing electric pace, Van Persie can change a game in an instant with his ability to achieve the improbable. He is technically excellent, intelligent on and off the ball and has the vision to unlock any defence.
Weaknesses: His injury problems have been well documented, and perhaps sometimes he takes the difficult option when a simple pass would suffice. Not great in the air and there have also been question marks over his temperament.
Career high: Finishing as the Premier League's top scorer with 26 goals in 2012-13 and lifting the title for the first time in a memorable debut season for Manchester United.
Career low: An 8-2 defeat to United, in which he missed a penalty, in early 2011-12 as newly appointed Arsenal captain saw him describe the match as one of the worst in his life.
Style: Skilful, technical, precise, a potent striker with a delicate touch.
Quotes: "I think he is definitely an example of a striker who can play the No. 9 and No. 10 roles together. He puts the goals in and provides a lot and I think, for a player of that quality, it's very rare. He is top class." Manchester United legend and former Netherlands teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy praises Van Persie.
Trivia: Van Persie is a very left-footed player and has an interesting turn of phrase to describe his right. "I think you will miss many more chances with your chocolate leg if you think negatively, thinking that it's not your strong foot," he once said.
|Netherlands||H - Costa Rica||Jul 5, 2014||WC||W (4) 0-(3) 0||Started||0||0||5||4||5||0||0||0|
|Netherlands||H - Mexico||Jun 29, 2014||WC||W 2-1||Sub-Off 75.0 min||0||0||1||0||1||2||0||0|
|Netherlands||A - Australia||Jun 18, 2014||WC||W 2-3||Sub-Off 86.0 min||1||0||4||4||4||3||1||0|
|Netherlands||A - Spain||Jun 13, 2014||WC||W 1-5||Sub-Off 78.0 min||2||0||4||3||2||0||1||0|