Arjen Robben has been a star player for Bayern Munich ever since he arrived in Germany in 2009. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Arjen Robben has been a star player for Bayern Munich ever since he arrived in Germany in 2009. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Bundesliga

Arjen Robben: 10 things on Bayern Munich's Flying Dutchman

With his pace, power, and cultured left foot, Arjen Robben has cemented his legacy as one of the game's finest wingers of all time in a decorated stint with Bayern Munich.

bundesliga.com presents 10 things on the legendary Flying Dutchman..

1) A serious medal haul

Robben was born in Bedum in the northeast of the Netherlands, and joined local club Groningen at the age of 11. His talent became evident quickly, and he has gone on to play for four teams that have been European champions in the past: PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern.

The 34-year-old has been a league winner in four countries – claiming five major trophies during his three years in London - but it’s in Germany where he has enjoyed most success. Ahead of the 2017/18 campaign – his ninth in Bavaria – he had won six Bundesliga titles, four DFB Cup trophies, the DFL and UEFA Supercup once and – of course – the UEFA Champions League.

Watch: Robben - almost nine years of Bayern magic

2) A Brazilian influence

When Robben was just a child, another remarkably skilful attacker was lighting up the Dutch Eredivisie only a couple of hours south of his home.

“When I was growing up I was always a big fan of Romario,” Robben said, when asked on Bayern’s TV channel who his favourite player was. “At the time he was also playing in Holland at PSV Eindhoven.”

A twinkle-toed striker, Romario scored 98 goals in 106 league games for PSV before moving on to Barcelona. He also netted against the Netherlands in the 1994 FIFA World Cup quarter-final in the USA – a tournament that Brazil would go on to win.

Apart from Romario though, Robben said he was “always the kind of guy that likes to play himself” rather than watch what other players are up to.

3) A signature move

Not many players have a trick that becomes synonymous with their play. Like the ‘Cruyff turn’ made famous by his fellow countryman Johan, though, Robben will always be remembered for a particular piece of magic.  

Having first regularly played as an inverted winger while at Real Madrid in 2008, he perfected the role when he moved to Bayern the following summer. With Franck Ribery operating in a similar way on the opposite side, the sight of Robben cutting in off the right wing to curl into the far corner with his left foot became a regular one in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

“Yes, it’s a weapon,” Robben told ESPN FC when discussing his trademark scoring move in 2016. “When something works, you just keep going. But I’m not the right person to explain why it works.”

- © imago

4) The fastest ever?

Robben is surely one of the quickest players ever to play the game. He hit top speed at the 2014 World Cup, when the then 30-year-old was reportedly clocked sprinting at 23 miles per hour.

It’s his speed of thought, too, that makes him so hard for defenders to get a handle on. But even the Bayern star admits that sometimes he’s not sure what he’s going to do once he starts moving through the gears.

“Everything happens intuitively,” he once said. “When I go on a run, I don’t know where it will end.”

- © gettyimages / Martin Rose

5) Some major lows

When you’re such a successful player, it’s inevitable that you will experience some lows along the way. Robben missed a good chance in the 2010 World Cup final against Spain, but it’s worth remembering that his brilliant performances helped get an unfancied Dutch side that far. As a result of a hamstring problem, his first start came in the last 16 against Slovakia, and he netted in both that match and a semi-final victory over Uruguay.

For Bayern, he saw a crucial penalty saved in a 1-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund in a thrilling 2011/12 title battle, and just weeks later worse was to come when Bayern hosted Chelsea in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final. Robben missed a spot-kick in extra-time before Bayern eventually lost in a shootout. However, he would soon put those lows behind him in spectacular style.

“The best thing about football and sport in general, is that if you suffer a big disappointment then there is no better feeling than coming back the following year and doing well,” Robben told The Guardian.

8) How he puts injury behind him

It’s arguable that Robben could have won the Ballon d’Or – the top individual prize in football – if it wasn’t for the injury problems that dogged him earlier in his career.  

In 2009, he began working with an osteopath, and while he has had further setbacks, he believes that getting a better understanding of his body helped him achieve great success since then.

Robben often seemed to return better than before, and he made a reference to his injury issues when he retired from international football in October 2017. After scoring twice against Sweden, he brought to an end a glittering career with the Netherlands during which he registered 37 goals in 96 games, helping his country to finish as runners-up at the 2010 World Cup and third in the 2014 edition.

“Fourteen years is a long time,” he said of his international career. “The man of glass lasted the longest.”

Watch: Robben's top 5 Bundesliga goals

9) His own best critic

Robben has consistently improved his game to stay at the top, so it’s perhaps no surprise to learn of his relentless powers of self-motivation.   

“Most managers think about the team process – and so you have to improve things on your own,” he told The Guardian in 2015. “You have to be very strong mentally. But it’s also very important to be critical of yourself.

“This is something I miss a little with the younger generation. These days you have guys who are 19 or 20 and they’ve played their first game and they feel they’ve made it. It’s not true. There’s always so much to improve, no matter your age.”

In 2014 Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer said that Robben was the “perfect example” of how an older player can still develop, while former Bayern boss Pep Guardiola joked that he was “in love” with the Dutchman because of his “unbelievable mentality”. The Spaniard said that only one or two players he had met during his career were as professional as Robben.

10) He wants to go home  

Robben is not sure what he will do once his career as a player ends, or when that will even be. But he is hoping to move closer to where it all started soon after he eventually hangs up his boots.  

“What’s certain is that I will return to the Netherlands after I retire – to Groningen,” he told German sports magazine kicker last year. “I still have close ties with my home town club. Maybe I can I can find something to do there.”

With almost 100 Bundesliga goals to his name, he’ll be a hard man to replace.

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