Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie (born August 6, 1983 in Rotterdam) is a Dutch footballer currently playing at English FA Premier League team Arsenal as a striker. He can play as a striker (as he normally does for Arsenal) or on either wing, as he primarily does for the Netherlands.
Van Persie was brought up in the Kralingen area of east Rotterdam.
Van Persie began his career as a youth player for Dutch side Excelsior Rotterdam and later Feyenoord Rotterdam, earning caps in the process for Netherlands U19 and U21 teams. He was unexpectedly called up to Feyenoord's injury plagued first-team squad soon after he signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the club in January 2002. His performances with Feyenoord, including his playing an integral part in the 3-2 UEFA Cup final victory over Borussia Dortmund at the De Kuip on May 8, 2002, earned him the prestigious Best Young Talent award given by the KNVB for the 2001-02 season.
As a result of a back injury suffered during the summer of 2002, there was uncertainty as to whether Van Persie could start the new season. Van Persie, however, showed no such worries come the beginning of the season, scoring 8 goals in 28 league games as well as playing twice in the UEFA Champions League. Despite his talent Robin Van Persie had a difficult relationship with the Feyenoord manager Bert van Marwijk, a strict discipliniarian, who sent him home on the eve of the European Super Cup against Real Madrid in Monaco.
With Van Persie's Feyenoord contract due to expire in 2005, a disagreement with Bert van Marwijk combined with the fact that the club had not offered him a new contract meant that he spent most of the following season as a fading light at the club.
English club Arsenal, undeterred by a rebuff during the January 2004 transfer window, made a move for the striker at the end of the 2003-04 season. Van Persie also emerged as a target for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen, and Spanish side Sevilla. However Arsenal fended off other club interest and signed van Persie, despite already having signed Spanish striker José Antonio Reyes from Sevilla. Van Persie completed his move for a fee believed to be in the range of £3 million, to the Premiership on May 17, 2004. Praised by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger for the strength of his talent, he made his debut for the team in the 3-1 FA Community Shield victory over rivals Manchester United on August 8, 2004. Early on, he played as a left winger, but he predominantly plays as a striker for Arsenal. He is touted as Arsenal's long-term replacement for his idol Dennis Bergkamp.
He spent most of his time on the bench during earlier parts of the season and looked to have earned himself a permanent place there with his sending off against Southampton which cost Arsenal two points, and caused Wenger to display uncharacteristic anger in public with a player. To his credit, Van Persie redoubled his efforts in training during his suspension and was reintroduced in to the team when injuries to Thierry Henry forced Wenger's hand. His return to the first team has been marked with numerous goals, the pinnacle of his achievements (at that time) coming in the FA Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers where he scored two goals to secure victory for Arsenal. He also scored the vital breakthrough goal against West Bromwich Albion to help Arsenal secure second place in the Premiership after the Albion defence had proved difficult to break down. As a result of his good play he won the The Barclay's Premiership Player of the Month.
Van Persie scored in the first game of the 2005-06 season and he continued to show good form, winning the prestigious Player of the Month award in November after scoring six goals in just four starts. So far he has tended to be deployed in an advanced left-wing role in a 4-5-1 formation, rather than as a second striker alongside Thierry Henry, where he had previously established himself for Arsenal. He signed a contract extension keeping him at the North London club until 2011. In the early part of the 2006-07 season, against Charlton Athletic, he scored what turned out to be BBC's Goal of the Month, a stunning airborne volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. Arsène Wenger described it as 'technically perfect'.
Robin Van Persie received his first full international cap against Romania on 4th June 2005. Despite not being an automatic first choice to start for Arsenal, Van Persie was selected as one of Holland's forwards for the 2006 FIFA World Cup by national coach Marco Van Basten. His first World Cup goal came in the group match against Côte d'Ivoire, a blistering free kick in the 23rd minute. Despite the Netherlands premature exit out of the world elite competition, Van Persie has forced himself into the first eleven following impressive displays in Germany
During the Euro 2008 qualifiers, van Persie made an instant impact during games against Luxembourg and Belarus. Despite an unconvincing 1-0 win against the central European minnows, Luxembourg, Van Persie was a constant threat surging forwards throughout the match. Yet his performance against the Belarussians surely illustrated why van Basten has handed him the coveted number 7 shirt. Two perfectly struck goals in either halves and a clinical cross to feed Dirk Kuyt helped the Netherlands claim a comfortable 3-0 win. He continued his great form in the next two games, scoring against Bulgaria in a 1-1 draw and also in the 2-1 victory against Albania a few days later.
Van Persie's mother is a teacher and his father an artist. His father brought him up as a single parent. He grew up in a rough neighbourhood of Rotterdam alongside its large immigrant population. He had a series of behavioural problems at school and was often excluded from classes. He is married to Bouchra, a Dutch-Moroccan. They have one child together, a boy named Shaqeel, born on November 16th, 2006. They live in Hampstead, North London. While some sources claim he is a convert to Islam, Van Persie has never disclosed his faith in interviews.   
During the 2005 close season van Persie was accused of rape by a Dutch beauty queen. Dutch police eventually released van Persie without charge after they completed their investigations.
(correct as of 12th November 2006)
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