After Arsenal’s non-flying Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp retired, it was not surprising for Arsene Wenger to seek a suitable replacement for the shadow striker. Funnily enough it was a Dutch wonderkid who was deemed suitable to be the Iceman’s successor.
Born in Feyenoord Rotterdam on the 6th of August 1983, it seemed like the world was going to have another artist on the cards, as both his parents were artists. But rather than the world having another artist with the paint brush, Robin van Persie has proven to be exactly that on the football field.
Scorer of 30 Premier League goals, bagging the golden boot award and the winner of the PFA and FWA awards this season, Cobra, as he is nicknamed by team-mates, is currently one of the hottest properties in world football.
Van Persie started off his career in SBV Excelsior’s youth squad before joining his hometown club Feyenoord in 1999 where he subsequently won the UEFA cup in 2002. He was undoubtedly a rising star as he won the Dutch football talent in the same year.
On the 17th of May 2004, the Flying Dutchman was valued at around £5 million, but shrewd businessman Arsene Wenger did enough to land his man for £2.75 million on a four-year deal after disagreements with then Feyenoord boss Bert van Marwijk deteriorated beyond repairs and suitors were warded off with his disciplinary record.
Playing as a winger back then, Van Persie was bought with the hope of turning him into a striker like it was done to Thierry Henry, a role and move which has benefited him and the club as he returned as the league’s highest goal scorer in the 2011/12 season.
Though Robin can play on the wings, in the attacking midfield role, as a second striker or as the main front-man, the 28-year-old is currently revelling in his role as the top striker at Arsenal and the Dutch national team. Having been capped 62 times and scoring 25 goals for his country so far, Robin is presently away with the Oranje boys in preparation for the Euro Championships in Poland and Ukraine which starts in two weeks time.
His fine form at the start of 2005/06 season, netting eight times in as many games earned him an extension to his contract which runs until next summer. Van Persie has endured an injury blighted career and the just concluded season is his first one without a single injury and, incidentally, his most successful so far. The Dutchman was named vice-captain in the 2009/10 season behind then club captain Cesc Fabregas, but when the Spaniard departed last season, the Dutch strikers was handed the armband.
With one year left on his contract, Robin has been the cynosure of all eyes in Europe this season as his goals helped a faltering Gunners side clinch third and finish above the Spuds.