Robin van Persie is a striker who plays for the Dutch national side and Arsenal in the English Premier League. He has been used as a left-sided winger by both Holland and Arsenal, but is at his best when he is playing as a centre-forward, alongside a target-man team-mate that he can form an effective partnership with. He has had his share of controversy, but has started to show maturity to match his undoubted ability.
Van Persie was born on 6th August 1983 in Rotterdam, Holland. He enjoyed a loving childhood alongside his two sisters and was encouraged to express himself through art by his sculptor parents – though he chose football as his art. At the age of 15 it became clear that Robin had a special football talent. He initially signed up with the Excelsior youth team, but fell out with the coach, so signed for rivals Feyenoord instead!
Robin first played first team football for Feyenoord as a seventeen year-old, whilst he was still on a trainee contract. Feyenoord won the UEFA Cup that year, giving Robin his first taste of success. In August 2002, van Persie signed his first professional contract, and became a key player for the Dutch club.
Whilst his goals were appreciated by the coach, his attitude and temperament weren’t, and van Persie soon found himself out of favour. Another season as second-choice followed, in spite of his 8 goals the previous season, and Feyenoord made it known that they were trying to rid themselves of van Persie, who had told the club that he would sit out his contract and leave on a Bosman free transfer.
Arsenal signed Robin van Persie in May 2004 for a fee of £2.75m, with very little competition for his signature because of the rumours about his attitude. Van Persie had a great chance to learn from Thierry Henry and Robert Pires. Whilst he arrived at the Gunners as a winger, Wenger believed he would be more effective further up the field.
Injuries and competition for places resulted in van Persie failing to make many more than 20 appearances a season for Arsenal in his first four seasons, with world-class players competing for the striker role and various broken metatarsal and knee injuries keeping Robin on the sidelines.
He started the 2008 season as the established first-choice striker, alongside Adebayor, and has developed a knack of scoring important goals for the Gunners. He is brilliant from set-pieces, and specialises in spectacular volleys.
Robin van Persie made just one appearance for the Dutch U21 team before he got the call-up to join the full squad. He made his debut in 2005, in qualifying for World Cup 2006, and was part of Holland’s World Cup and Euro 2008 squads – establishing himself in the first team when Ruud van Nistelrooy decided to retire from international football.