By Nicholas Spiller
“I owe it all to the the placenta massage I received a few years ago,” Robin van Persie said. No, of course he didn’t say that. If only it were so easy…Arsene Wenger would be massaging Arshavin with fluid from a placenta right this minute.
Most soccer experts would have you believe that a player finally masters his craft in his late 20’s. During this time, and extending into his early 30’s, a player is finally able to grasp a high enough understanding of the game to orchestrate skill to near perfection. In addition, he still has the body that allows him to do so. One player who is now reaching this period of his career is the Arsenal captain and flying Dutchman, Robin van Persie.
Robin was a troublemaker as a child and repeatedly had to be removed from his classes at school. His parents were both artists and divorced early on in Robin’s childhood. Raised by his father, Robin van Persie could not see the beauty in art but found himself intrigued in the beauty of soccer. He has expressed his love for creativity when he said, “I think football is where my creativity comes out.”
There is no better example of Robin van Persie creativity on the ball than in this goal he scored versus Inter Milan, where he sweeps the ball to his right foot to hammer it home. For van Persie though, this is just one of the over 100 goals he’s score for Arsenal.
Van Persie is a product of the Feyenoord youth system in the Netherlands. He made his debut at age 17 and quickly fit into the team. He scored 15 goals for the club and even helped the team to a 2002 UEFA Cup Championship. Unfortunately, his bad behavior continued to haunt his professional development as the manager, Bert van Marwijk, banished him to the reserves side. He was able to make several first team appearances through the following season but the decision was made to sell him elsewhere.
Arsenal was one of the few suitors for Robin van Persie and manager Arsene Wenger got an absolute steal when he purchased the player for under 3 million pounds. Following in the footsteps of Dutch legen Dennis Bergkamp, and Frenchman Thierry Henry, van Persie simply learned from the best. As he enters his prime, he now has a complete mastery of the sport and a rather punishing left-footed strike. Like Henry, he is also a free kick specialist who made his mark on the international game during the 2006 World Cup when he curled one in against the Ivory Coast:
Since then, Robin van Persie’s career has been quite fascinating but frustrating. He has continuously dealt with long term injuries and has yet to complete a full season of work. In 2009, he received a bizarre treatment for his damaged ankle that included a placenta infused massage treatment in Serbia. Amazingly, it actually seemed to have helped get the star back on the field.
When he is on the pitch, however, his numbers are incredible. In 2011 so far, the man has played in 28 games and has scored a remarkable 29 goals. He is currently leading the Premier League in goals scored and has been a very successful captain this season for the Gunners, whose new look side constantly looks towards him for an attacking threat. Especially since Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left the squad this past summer, Arsenal have depended on van Persie more now than ever. After a rough start to the year, van Persie has led them back into contention for the Premier League title.
He seems to have rekindled his relationship with Bert van Marwijk, who is now the Netherland’s coach, but honestly the manager has no choice. Robin van Persie is so talented that he must be included in the side. He performed quite well in the 2010 World Cup, and the team made it to the final match only to lose to Spain in overtime. If he can build off his current form, Robin van Persie will soon be considered the best striker in the world. Big spenders Manchester City have already been linked to the player, but Arsenal would do well to hold on for dear life. Right now, van Persie is the one player keeping this club afloat, and is just now entering his prime. Let us only hope he can stay healthy and won’t have to resort to using a placenta again.
Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: email@example.com