Arjen Robben has both the ability and courage to ignore recent criticism and deliver the World Cup to the Netherlands and departing manager Louis van Gaal.
The Bayern Munich winger was the subject of much fury across the globe after admitting to diving during his side’s 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday, leading for calls for governing bodies such as FIFA to clamp down on him after his latest act of cheating.
History of diving
Robben has long boasted a reputation as one of the so-called 'villains' of the sport, with his play-acting well documented across the footballing globe. Just last season Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger labelled him ‘a very good diver' after his side slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Bayern in the Champions League.
But it will not deter the flying Dutchman from his methods. Accusations of diving aside, Robben’s judgement is what has made him one of the most potent attacking forces on the planet and one of the greatest players in the world.
In a career that has spanned Eindhoven to London, Madrid to Munich, the only prize missing from his collection is an international trophy won in the bright, vivid orange colours of his country.
He was part of the side that came so agonisingly close to World Cup glory four years ago, with Spain beating the Netherlands 1-0 in South Africa to crush Dutch dreams. Robben missed a glaring chance on that occasion, a wound that only glory in Brazil can heal.
For years it looked as if the Champions League trophy would evade him, haunted by a miss of similar proportions from the penalty spot in Bayern’s loss to Chelsea in the 2012 final. He was redeemed by mustering every ounce of quality in him to rise to the occasion and score the winner against Borussia Dortmund at the same stage the following year.
His importance for club and country is indescribable. Since moving from Real Madrid to Bavaria in 2009, he has played a major role in delivering three Bundesliga titles to help his side dominate the domestic scene.
Such is his quality - and the fact that his manager is Van Gaal - rumours have circulated of a potential move back to England with Manchester United. Prising him away from an area where he is loved and coveted could prove difficult and Pep Guardiola is unlikely to sanction the sale of such a key asset.
Robben will always have his critics but he will let his football do the talking. A World Cup-winning display would be the loudest actions of all.
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