Football has been graced with plenty of left-footed players throughout the years, yet one of the most gifted stars in recent history has to be Arjen Robben.
Robben recently announced his retirement for the second time last month, after initially hanging up his boots in 2019, only to return to the game in 2020 for a year with Dutch side Groningen.
As a result, the Dutch winger ended his professional career with the same side that he started it off with back in 2000.
When he was still a youngster playing in the Eredivisie, Robben showcased his incredible talent while playing with Groningen, even being named as the club’s player of the year in his first season, and he eventually earned a move to Dutch giants, PSV Eindhoven.
PSV paid €3.9 million for him ahead of the 2002/03 season, a huge fee to spend on a young player at the time, yet they would quickly see the fruits of their investment, with Robben excelling, scoring 12 goals and providing seven assists in 33 league games in his first season.
He maintained his brilliant performances for PSV, winning the 2002/03 Eredivisie, and also being called up to the Netherlands squad for Euro 2004, where he was part of a dazzling team when he was still only 20.
While Manchester United had a €7 million offer for him rejected by PSV, the Dutch side eventually accepted an €18 million offer from Chelsea, with Robben claiming in 2018 that he had spoken to Chelsea and that he “liked their plans,” opting to sign for the London side.
Despite struggling with injuries during his time at Chelsea, Robben impressed whenever he was fit to play, getting seven goals and nine assists in just 18 Premier League games in his debut season, winning the Premier League and the League Cup, and also being named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Robben’s performances started to dwindle down over the following two seasons, and while Chelsea won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup over those seasons, he contributed less and less due to growing injury concerns.
Real Madrid however, were not bothered by his injury record, and they paid Chelsea €35 million for Robben, believing that he could add to their already very strong squad.
His spell in Spain would prove to be less fruitful than his stint in England, and while he was part of the side that won the La Liga in 2007/08 and then the Supercopa de Espana in 2008, he struggled for consistency, often being deployed on the left-wing rather on the right.
Adding to his troubles, Florentino Perez, who had returned as Real Madrid president, was planning to make several ‘Galactico’ signings over the summer of 2009, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka arriving.
Robben then claimed that he was ‘forced’ to leave Real Madrid, and stated that the change of president instigated his departure, and “when politics comes into play and you don’t have a real chance, you must decide if you want to keep fighting or continue your career elsewhere”.
Consequently, Robben was sold to Bayern Munich in 2009 for €25 million, and this was the move that proved to be the most successful for his career.
In Germany, Robben thrived, scoring 23 goals and providing eight assists in all competitions in his first season, and he went on to form a wonderful partnership with Franck Ribery, who played on the opposite wing.
Robben and Ribery combined on numerous occasions, leading to the nickname ‘Robbery’, and they proved to be two of the deadliest wingers not just in the Bundesliga, but in the world, helping Bayern Munich to eight Bundesliga titles, five DFB-Pokal titles, five DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup.
Robben made a name for himself for his ability to cut inside from the right and score wonderful goals, with defenders knowing what he was going to do, without being able to stop him.
Some of his most memorable goals for Bayern include that delightful volley against Manchester United in 2009/10, and also the 89th minute Champions League-winning goal against German rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2012/13.
He would also go on to become an iconic figure for the Netherlands squad, scoring 37 goals in 96 caps, including a double in the 5-1 thrashing of Spain in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, inflicting revenge for the loss in the 2010 final.
A truly remarkable winger with fantastic technique on the ball, who despite being plagued by injuries over the course of his career, still frightened defenders whenever he played.
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