- Sep 3, 2010
Full name: Robin van Persie
Date of birth: 6 August 1983 (age 28)
Place of birth: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position : Striker
Van Persie joined Dutch side SBV Excelsior's youth squad at the age of 14 years, but left at the age of 15 due to the relationship with the coach (Jamie Mcculloch) and his mother, and thus signed for Feyenoord. He was quickly promoted into the first team due to injury problems among the squad, and made his debut for the club at 17, which was the first of 15 total starts. He received the KNVB Best Young Talent award at the end of the 2001–02 season. He signed a professional three-and-a-half year contract with Feyenoord in the following season, and scored five goals in a 6–1 Amstel Cup thrashing of AGOVV on 6 February 2003. However, clashes with 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." During a match featuring the Feyenoord and Ajax reserves, he was one of several Feyenoord players assaulted by hooligans who had invaded the pitch. 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. Van Persie finished his tumultuous debut season on 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,' he says. '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
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.
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. 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, 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." Arsenal had further padded their stable of strikers in January by signing Spanish forward José Antonio Reyes, 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. 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."
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. (Quote made regarding Van Persie's goal against Charlton Athletic in the 2006–07 Premier League)
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."
Van Persie was consequently benched for a number of games, starting with Arsenal's upcoming FA Cup replay against Sheffield United, 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.
Van Persie with Thierry Henry in 2006.
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, and he was rewarded with a five-year contract extension until 2011 on 4 January. 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.
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. He was an unused substitute in Arsenal's first Champions League final appearance, a 2–1 loss to FC Barcelona.
Van Persie and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in 2008
The beginning of the 2006–07 season included an airborne volley against Charlton Athletic that Wenger called "the goal of a lifetime" and was later named BBC Sport's Goal of the Month for September, 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. 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.
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. He made his comeback in Arsenal's Champions League group stage win over Steaua Bucureşti 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.
Van Persie in 2009
Van Persie opened his 2008–09 account on 31 August with a brace in Arsenal's 3–0 league victory over Newcastle United. 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. 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. On 21 December 2008, he scored a spectacular goal against Liverpool, which became his second-career BBC Goal of the Month. 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. 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. 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. His most inspirational display being against Hull City, where he struck the post with a freekick, and provided three assists to his teammates; 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 Champions League Round of 16 encounter, after he was fouled by defender Philippe Mexès. 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.
"Robin van Persie's such an amazing footballer. He hardly needs any space or time to become dangerous
Bert van Marwijk
Van Persie 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." 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 teammate Adebayor (an act which the referee failed to notice, but the FA later charged Adebayor with violent conduct and served him with a three-game suspension). 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. On 14 November, however, he injured his ankle in an international friendly and was initially expected to be out for six weeks, 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.
Van Persie with Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets
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. 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 defeat to Newcastle United on 7 November.
On 1 January 2011, Van Persie scored his first goal of the season in a 3–0 away win over Birmingham City. 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. Van Persie scored his first career hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Wigan Athletic on 22 January and two goals against Newcastle United in a 4–4 draw on 5 February. 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. 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.
Van Persie set the Emirates alight with a goal from an almost impossible angle in Arsenal's fightback against Barcelona in the Champions League Round of 16 which ended 2–1 in favour of the Gunners. 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 3 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.
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.
Van Persie and Arsenal against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. He then added to his tally with the only goal of the game against Everton, an exquisite volley from an Alex Song long ball. The following match, versus Aston Villa, saw him score a penalty and provide an assist. 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.
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, 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. 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. A week later, Van Persie scored both goals in a 2–1 away win at Liverpool, one being a left foot volley assisted by Alex Song which was similar to the one he scored against Everton earlier in the campaign. On 11 April 2012, after scoring the penalty against wolves in away 3 - 0 win, the Dutch striker became only the second player to score against 17 different Premier League opponents in a single campaign. Van Persie is currently the top goal-scorer in the Premier League with 27 goals, and Arsenal's 8th all-time top scorer with 129 goals. 
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. 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, and in another qualifier four days later against Finland, which saw him pick up his first international goal in a 4–0 victory.
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.
UEFA Euro 2008
Van Persie scored a team-best four UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying goals, 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.
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. On 27 May 2010, Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk announced that he was in the final squad of 23 participating in the competition. Van Persie was in the starting line-up for their first match in the competition, a 2–0 victory over Denmark. 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. He started every match for the Oranje, though he did not increase his goal tally following the match. However The Oranje reached the 2010 World Cup Final, in which he was on the losing side due to Andrés Iniesta's extra time goal.
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 top 10 all-time topscorer ranking with a tally of 25 goals, dislodging Marco van Basten in the process. Van Persie had not scored 4 goals in a single match for a long while.
Van Persie was born on 6 August 1983 in a multi-ethnic area of Rotterdam to an artistic family. José Ras, his mother, is a painter and jewellery designer who also teaches children with special needs. 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. After joining Arsenal in England, Van Persie settled in Hampstead, an affluent suburb of North London. Van Persie is married to his long-time girlfriend Bouchra. The couple have two children; a boy 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. Sandra Krijgsman, a former Miss Nigeria Holland winner, claimed she was attacked by Van Persie in a hotel. He was held for fourteen nights in prison while the police investigated the allegations made against him but was then released without charge, though he was still under suspicion. 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 the story to gain publicity. 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 over 200 Rotterdam police officers had attempted to view his case files, with the vast majority of them unauthorised to do so.
Van Persie uses Twitter to communicate with his fans.
Style of play
Van Persie with Dutch admirers
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 Freddie 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. Van Persie has become a pivotal figure for club and country and this was recognized when he was named Arsenal Player of The Season for the 2008–09 season. Van Persie's 50th Premier League strike made him only the fourth Dutchman to reach 50 goals in England's top division, along with Bergkamp, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
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 drops 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. 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.