Robin van Persie: A tribute
Robin van Persie's goals ensured Manchester United clinched their 20th league title
After winning the Premier League for the first time in his career on Monday, I thought it was only fitting to write about the career so far of Manchester United's flying Dutchman, Robin van Persie.
Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1983 to a family of artists, Robin van Persie began life as a footballer by signing a youth contract with Dutch side, SBV Excelsior.
By the age of 15, the striker joined prominent Eredivisie club Feyenoord and made his debut two years later, winning the best young talent award at the end of the 2001/02 season.
Despite the obvious ability the youngster possessed, he fell out with then head coach Bert Van Marwijk due to the forward's attitude on and off the pitch. Van Persie ended his first full season with his hometown club scoring eight goals in 28 appearances and was on the radar of Premier League giants, Arsenal.
Feyenoord began transfer negotiations with The Gunners during the January transfer window in 2004 as the London club were looking for a long-term replacement for veteran Dennis Bergkamp, yet both clubs could not agree terms. Arsenal got their man in time for the following campaign as Van Persie signed a four-year deal for a fee in the region of £2.5 million.
The Dutch striker scored 10 goals in his first season with his new club and won the only trophy during his time with Arsenal, that was the FA Cup as The Gunners defeated Van Persie's future club Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 final.
The striker won his first six caps for the Oranje the same year and scored his first goal for his country in a World Cup qualifying match against Finland. The following season, Van Persie began the season on fire scoring eight goals in as many matches before injury stalled his progress. He was an unused substitute in Arsenal's one and only appearance in the Champions League final, a 2-1 loss to Catalan club Barcelona.
At the World Cup finals in 2006, Van Persie scored his first goal in a major international tournament, a free-kick against Ivory Coast during the group stage. However, Holland were knocked out in the very next round following a 1-0 defeat to Portugal.
The beginning of the 2006/07 season saw the forward score a fantastic volley which ultimately turned out to be the winner in a 2-1 away win against Charlton Athletic. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described the strike as "the goal of a lifetime".
His season came to a premature end due to injury, however he still managed to end the season as The Gunners' top scorer with 13 goals in all competitions. Three seasons later, following injuries interrupting his progress, Van Persie broke the 20-goal barrier for the first time in his career, scoring 11 league goals, four cup goals and five Champions League goals. Following this successful campaign, Van Persie signed a new and improved long-term contract with the north London club.
The Dutchman only made 19 appearances in all competitions during the 2009/10 season, once again due to injury. However he did average more than a goal a game by scoring 10 goals. Van Persie also helped his country progress all the way to the final at the 2010 World Cup, scoring one goal and providing a number of assists before the Netherlands were defeated by current world champions Spain, courtesy of an Andres Iniesta goal in extra-time.
The next season saw Van Persie change to the No.10 shirt which had previously been worn by Arsenal legend and fellow Dutch striker, Dennis Bergkamp. It proved to be his most successful season to date as he scored 22 goals in 33 appearances and scored the team's goal of the season for his spectacular strike against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Van Persie was appointed club captain upon the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona just before the 2011/12 season. With his contract rolling, speculation centred around the Dutch striker moving away from Arsenal, however he pledged his future to the Gunners.
Van Persie was considered to be Arsenal's only world-class player at the time for his ability to score frequently, including a hat-trick against Chelsea in a 5-3 away win at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League by AC Milan despite almost pulling off a miraculous comeback, but fell short by a single goal and lost 4-3 on aggregate. Nonetheless, Van Persie scored a career high 37 goals in all competitions, winning the PFA Players' Player of the Year, the FWA Footballer of the Year and also won the Premier League golden boot with 30 league goals that season.
In the summer of 2012, the Dutch forward announced he would not be signing a new contract with Arsenal, which forced manager Arsene Wenger into selling his star man.
That August, Van Persie signed for rivals Manchester United on a four-year contract for a fee estimated to be around £24 million. He made his debut as a substitute in the first league game of the season, but his new club lost 1-0 away to Everton.
Five days later, the Dutchman scored on his home debut in a 3-2 over Fulham. The following month, Van Persie netted his first hat-trick for Manchester United in a 3-2 away win over Southampton. His third goal marked the 100th Premier League goal of his career.
He opened is account in Europe for the club, scoring a brace in a 2-1 win over Romanian side CFR Cluj. Van Persie also scored the winner in a 3-2 victory for United over closest rivals Manchester City, which put his side in the driving seat to win the Premier League for a 13th time.
On April 22, Van Persie scored his second hat-trick of the season in a 3-0 home win against Aston Villa and thus United celebrated regaining the league title while the Dutchman took over as top scorer with 24 goals.
So far in his career, Van Persie has scored 182 in just under 400 appearances at club level. The Dutchman has also netted 34 times in 74 caps for the Netherlands and is one of the most feared strikers in world football today.
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