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Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben (pronounced Ar-yan Rob-ben) (born January 23, 1984 in Bedum, Netherlands) is a footballer for the Netherlands national football team and Chelsea F.C.. Robben is well-known all over the world for his remarkably excellent ball technique, his game-breaking speed and his precise dribbling skills. He was the 2000-01 player of the year for F.C. Groningen and the 2002-03 Talent of the Year for PSV Eindhoven, both in the Dutch Eredivisie, all of which had been achieved before he turned 20. He was also the November 2004 player of the month for Chelsea F.C. in the English Premier League.

Early football life

Born in the town of Bedum in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands, Robben took to football from an early age. He began playing with local clubs C.V.V.B and V.V. Bedum. Robben became an adherent of the Coerver Method, created and popularized by Dutch football coach Wiel Coerver.[1] Coerver's method focused on precision ball control and fast, technical footwork. Robben's skill in these areas made him a valuable player, and he was quickly signed by local club FC Groningen.

Club Career

 F.C. Groningen

2000-2002
F.C. Groningen placed Robben in their C-class youth team for the 1999/2000 season. He scored an impressive 50 goals in their competitions.[2][3] Manager Jan Van Dijk added the talented winger to the first team before Groningen's November 2000 away game against F.C. Twente, but he did not play until December 3, 2000 against RKC Waalwijk, as a substitute for the injured Leonardo dos Santos in the 79th minute. Over the winter, Robben managed to play himself into the starting lineup. In 18 starts for Groningen over the 2000-01 season, he scored 2 goals.[3] Robben was named player of the year for his first season with the big club, and with teammate Jordi Hoogstrate, he demonstrated the strength of the Groningen youth academy. Robben stayed with Groningen and improved steadily during the 2001-02 season, playing in 28 matches and scoring 6 goals.[4] Robben transferred to PSV Eindhoven for €4.2 million before the 2002-03 season.

PSV Eindhoven

2002-2004
During his first season for PSV Eindhoven, Robben appeared to justify the high transfer price he commanded. Just 18 when the 2002-03 season started, Robben played in 33 matches and scored 12 goals. He was named "PSV's co-player of the year" along with striker Mateja Kežman. He helped lead PSV to their 17th Dutch title, and won the Talent of the Year award.[3]

Personal information
Date of birth January 23, 1984
Place of birth    Bedum, Netherlands
Height 5'11" (1.80 m)
Nickname Robbie
Arjen Magic
Position Winger
Club information
Current club Chelsea
Number 16
Youth clubs


2000-2001
C.V.V.B
V.V. Bedum
F.C. Groningen
Professional clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
2000-2002
2002-2004
2004-present
F.C. Groningen
PSV Eindhoven
Chelsea
46 0(8)
56 (17)
64 (16)   
National team2
2003-present Netherlands 27 0(8)
1 Professional club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 21 January 2007.
2 National team caps and goals correct
as of 15 November 2006.
* Appearances (Goals)

After this good start, PSV could not keep up with rival AFC Ajax and were forced into a fight for second place in the Eredivisie. A transfer rumour linked him to Real Madrid. However, Robben's agent (his father, Hans Robben) said "Real Madrid also want him but he won't go to Real. What is the point? It is not the place for a young boy like my son. And he never liked Real anyway. When we were on holiday in Spain, he only liked Barcelona."[5] Arjen traveled to London and met with Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson. After that meeting, Robben said that moving to the English club would be a dream come true.[3] Ferguson's offer came in much too low for PSV's and/or Robben's liking; Eindhoven chairman Harry van Raaij told Manchester United the most that their €7 million offer would buy them was a shirt with Robben's autograph. Almost immediately, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich offered € 18 million (Ł 12.1 million) , and Robben accepted. The rest of his season with PSV was very disappointing. He injured his hamstring twice and missed several games, and also received criticism for his "poor manners" from PSV trainer Guus Hiddink, in reference to his somewhat dramatic dives and appeals for yellow cards.[3] This would not be the last time Robben was accused of such tactics. At the end of the 2003-04 season, Robben tallied only 23 appearances and 6 goals. However, he was clearly regarded as a dominant force, and was ready to claim the left wing for Chelsea in 2004-05.

Chelsea F.C.

2004-05

Robben did not make his competitive debut for Chelsea F.C. until November 2004, as he was injured in a pre-season friendly match against A.S. Roma, breaking a metatarsal bone in his right foot in a strong challenge from Olivier Dacourt, then of Roma. Robben missed many games due to injury in 2004-05, managing to play in only 18 games, the fewest of his professional career since his debut in 2000-01 with FC Groningen. On his return from injury, he added an extra dimension to the Chelsea attack. He received the Barclays Man of the Match Award for his outstanding display at home to Everton and scored goals in consecutive games against CSKA Moscow, Everton, Newcastle and Fulham. The 2004-05 season had some highlights for Robben; in November 2004, he was awarded the prestigious "Player of the Month" award for the English Premier League. Robben ended the 2004-05 season with 7 goals, his second highest professional total. He was shortlisted for the PFA Young Player of the Year, but was beaten by Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. His early Chelsea career was punctuated by dazzling displays as one of few 'out and out' wingers in the English game. His instant development of a blindingly quick and fluid front three with Ivorian centre-forward Didier Drogba and Irish winger Damien Duff was perhaps the most prevalent consequence of Robben's arrival.

However, Robben was badly injured in a league game away to Blackburn Rovers and forced to sit out Chelsea's title run-in and progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

2005-06

Back to fitness for 2005-06, Robben has been an integral part of the Chelsea left wing. In 20 matches, Robben contributed 5 goals and 3 assists as Chelsea won a second consecutive FA Premier League championship, the first back-to-back titles for the west London club.[6]

The 2005-06 season also saw Robben receive the first two red cards of his career, against Sunderland and West Brom. In addition, he was involved in an unsavoury incident with Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina. Towards the end of a league game between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, which Chelsea won 2-0, Reina raised his hand to Robben's face after some provocative words from Robben, directly following an earlier incident in which Reina committed a foul on Eidur Gudjohnsen. Robben fell theatrically to the turf, and Reina received a red card 'for violent behaviour'. As a result of the incident, Robben was branded a play-actor by various sections of the media, and Reina commented that Robben 'deserved an Oscar' for his theatrics. Reina's red card was not rescinded, however.

2006-07

After a World Cup finals where some startling performances on the left wing for the Netherlands brought universal acclaim, the Dutch winger has had limited chances to shine in a new look Chelsea squad. With the arrivals of Andriy Shevchenko, Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole, Chelsea manager José Mourinho has largely shelved the 4-3-3 formation with 2 wingers that he has used over the past two seasons and instead begun using a 4-1-3-2 formation, with versatile midfielders Frank Lampard and Michael Essien on the flanks instead of specialist wingers like Robben. This has often seen Robben on the bench and given little time to make an impression.

Since November 2006, however, Mourinho began giving Robben more playing opportunities, either as a withdrawn forward, playing off a lone target man, or as a winger, when reverting to the tried and tested 4-3-3. Robben's reputation as a 'diver' still looms over his head, resulting in Premiership referees being reluctant to award penalties or free-kicks in his favour. After a period of uncertainty Robben's role at Chelsea was unknown until the departure of fellow winger Duff for Newcastle United; Robben is now recognised as an important player for Chelsea in the injury-enforced absence of Joe Cole, with his ability to bring the ball down the flanks at speed essential in a team not especially endowed with great dribblers.

He was named man of the match on December 23rd against Wigan, a match he got two assists and the winning goal in. He was then sidelined for a few weeks.

On January 13th, Robben returned against Wigan, and was again named Man of the Match.

International career

Robben has played in 22 games for the Netherlands, scoring 8 goals. The first international experience of Robben's career came in Euro 2004, as the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. During Euro 2004 Dutch coach Dick Advocaat substituted Robben in the 66th minute with a 2-1 lead over the Czech Republic. The Czech team scored two goals and won 3-2, leading to criticism. Advocaat's decision has since been called "The Substitution" by Dutch soccer fans.[3] In the same tournament, it was Arjen who scored the deciding penalty in the shootout between Holland and Sweden, which ensured that at the fifth attempt, the Dutch finally won a penalty shootout. Robben played in his first World Cup Qualifiers in 2006. In 6 games for the Netherlands, Robben scored 2 goals.[7] The Netherlands qualified for the World Cup in 2006 and in Holland's opening match against Serbia and Montenegro, Robben scored the winning goal in the 18th minute, and was named the man of the match.

Honours

  • Dutch Eredivisie (2003)
  • Dutch Johan Cruijff-schaal (2003)
  • FA Community Shield (2005)
  • Football League Cup (2005)
  • English Premier League (2004-05),(2005-06)
  • U-21 European Footballer of the Year (2005)

Quotes

Arjen Robben: I'm not a player who will just sit and pick up my wages if I am not playing

Dutch football great Johan Cruijff:
 

"Robben is all set to have a fabulous career. You need to have a lot of qualities to break through at the highest level in world football and he certainly has those. I have no doubts about his future whatsoever ... Robben is learning very quickly ... he keeps scoring goals and keeps playing well. He knows that I expect a lot from him, but I am sure he is going to live up to all my expectations."[5]

Tottenham Hotspur coach Martin Jol:

"There are maybe two or three players as good as he is in the last 20 or 30 years. He’s that good.”[9]

Former Dutch National Team coach Dick Advocaat:

"He's a constant threat on the wing. He's fast, extremely fast, actually. He can break an opponent with his dribbles and skills, and that's a big advantage for our team."[9]

BBC pundit and former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen:

"There is no doubt he is a better winger than Cristiano Ronaldo in the minds of anyone who knows football."

Ruud Gullit on ITV:

"Robben is the best winger in the world, and in a few years will be the best player in the world, his dazzling skills, and immense pace make him greatly feared by all opposition."

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho:

"Robben is an unbelievable player so when he is fit it is fantastic"

Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri:

"For me, Arjen Robben will be a fantastic addition to our squad. He is quick, strong, scores goals and makes goals."

Personal life

He currently has a girlfriend named Bernadien, whom he met at high school in Groningen, at the Kamerlingh Onnes. [10] His father, Hans, acts as his agent. In addition to being a talented football player, Robben is quite adept at chess.

References

  1. ^ (Dutch) De Wiel Coerver Methode
  2. ^ Arjen Robben at endlesssoccer.tripod.com
  3. ^ a b c d e f Biography at ArjenRobbenFan.com
  4. ^ (Dutch) Cv Arjen Robben at voetbalfocus.nl
  5. ^ a b Arjen Robben - On The Way?, The Red Devil's Advocate blog, January 4, 2004
  6. ^ Arjen ROBBEN Profile at Yahoo! Sport UK
  7. ^ Arjen Robben at ESPNsoccernet
  8. ^ Includes FA Cup, League Cup and FA Community Shield
  9. ^ a b Quotes at ArjenRobbenFan.com
  10. ^ Arjen Robben dropped by, PSV.nl, January 7, 2005

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