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After Retiring For The Second Time Arjen Robben Will Be Recognized As One Of Europes Greatest Wingers

After struggling with injuries and re-joining boyhood club Groningen, Arjen Robben announced his retirement for the second time this week.
The 37-year-old retired from football in 2019 after leaving Bayern Munich, only to return in June 2020 with the Eredivisie side for a 12-month stint.
Yet the former Netherlands winger earned his reputation with Chelsea, Real Madrid, and, most notably, Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich, where he won a staggering 28 trophies.
Robben, on the other hand, was prone to significant knee problems, which left many wondering what may have been despite his evident skill and talent when terrorizing defenses across Europe.
Sportsmail examines the highs and lows in the career of one of Europe’s most lethal left-footers.
Arjen Robben has announced his retirement from football for the second time, following an injury-plagued season with Groningen. Robben had the majority of his success at Bayern Munich, where he terrorized defenses. Robben made remarkable leaps far before he was picked up by any of the elite European clubs he would later represent.
PSV Eindhoven signed him a year after he was awarded player of the season in his first season as a member of Groningen’s first-team squad, scoring 12 goals in 52 appearances.
There, he’d team up with Mateja Kezman and develop an excellent attacking tandem, with Robben giving the Serbian with a steady stream of chances.
When Kezman scored on home soil, the tandem was dubbed ‘Batman and Robben,’ a play on Batman and Robin, and the theme song from that show would frequently play.
Robben had impressed for Groningen and PSV before playing for Holland at Euro 2004. Yet after two seasons and one Eredivisie title with the Dutch giants, the winger would capture the attention of Europe’s elite after a magnificent Euro 2004 campaign.
Robben, who was only 20 years old at the time, was a key member of a youthful Netherlands team that put on a series of outstanding displays, the most memorable of which was their group-stage meeting with Czech Republic.
His team would go on to lose the game 3-2, but only after he had been substituted after setting up Wilfred Bouma and Ruud van Nistelrooy for the Netherlands’ first two goals.
The winger scored the game-winning penalty kick in the Netherlands’ quarter-final penalty shootout win against Sweden, and despite the fact that their run ended in the semi-finals against Portugal, the Premier League appeared to be his most likely next destination.
With PSV, he and Mateja Kezman gained the nickname ‘Batman and Robben,’ and they would reunite at Chelsea. Reports of talks between PSV and Manchester United would rumble on throughout the summer, but his next destination would be Chelsea.
Rio Ferdinand, a former Red Devils centre-back, said last year that the Dutchman turned down a move to Old Trafford in part due to the’smell’ of the Carrington training complex.
Yet the more significant reason for his lack of playing time under Sir Alex Ferguson was that, in his words, United never offered him a contract.
In 2018, Robben told FourFourTwo magazine, ‘I had a very excellent talk with him [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester, and we spoke about football and life.’
‘I also went around the training ground and everything seemed nice, but nothing occurred when I returned to PSV.’
There was no genuine interaction, and the arrangement fell through.
‘PSV were also talking with Chelsea at the tenure, so maybe they offered PSV more money?’ Robben won the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup, and Community Shield during his time with the Blues.
I’m not sure what I’m talking about.
I spoke with Chelsea and was impressed with her plans.
‘We just had one meeting, and everything was completed in a reasonable amount of time.’
I would have signed for Manchester United if they had offered me a deal right after I met them, but that didn’t happen, and I have no regrets.’ As he indicated, he did not regret his decision to transfer to Stamford Bridge, even if he did have some doubts when Claudio Ranieri left shortly after the Italian had signed him.
The Blues’ dreams of him combining with Kezman – who had joined him in west London – from the start were crushed when he was injured in a pre-season friendly by Roma’s Olivier Dacourt while on a tour of the United States.
Yet it was comments about his body that enraged him the most at the time.
‘You hear people say you’re made of glass at the time,’ he told Sportsmail in 2015.
‘I was enraged because I felt like I had to defend myself all of the time.’
His three months out of play did little to hurt his chances of succeeding at Chelsea, as he sparkled when he returned in November under Ranieri’s successor Jose Mourinho to earn the Premier League Player of the Month title.
He was a crucial member of Jose Mourinho’s side that won back-to-back Premier League titles. But three months later, Robben’s admiration had turned to concern as he suffered a broken foot against Blackburn in February, forcing him to miss the League Cup final win over Liverpool and their run to the Champions League semi-finals.
Nonetheless, the Blues’ first Premier League triumph came at the end of the season in May 2005, although the Dutchman was beaten to the PFA Young Player of the Year award by Wayne Rooney of Manchester United.
In 2005-06, the Blues won their second straight title, with Robben scoring six goals in 28 games, and his ceiling appeared to be rising by the game.
Yet, as fate would have it, injuries played yet another terrible role in his life.
Robben elected to have knee surgery after returning from international duty in March 2007, which ruled him out for the rest of the season, much to Mourinho’s chagrin.
The Dutchman would only play two more games for the Blues, the last of which was the 2007 FA Cup final victory over United, and after another injury setback in January of that year, doubts were growing as to whether Robben would ever be injury-free in England.
Despite injuries at Chelsea, Robben pushed on to Real Madrid in 2007. But, he was moved out two years later following the additions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. Real Madrid – and then president Ramon Calderon – were not deterred and bought the left-footed virtuoso for a cost of roughly PS24 million in 2007.
His time in Spain’s capital, however, would be less fruitful than his time in west London.
Yet his brief stay in Madrid had nothing to do with concerns about his body breaking down.
During his two LaLiga seasons with Madrid, the Dutchman scored five goals in 28 games and eight goals in 35 appearances, with the former constituting a contribution in a title-winning season.
Despite securing his position on the left side, Florentino Perez, who had been president for three years, was contemplating ‘Galactico’ additions.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka of Manchester United and AC Milan, respectively, arrived with such illustrious names.
Real Madrid politics, according to Robben, saw the threat of being replaced by a Portuguese or Brazilian star turn into a move to Bayern Munich to make room for their gleaming newcomers.
In 2019, he told AS, “They spent so much money and told us they needed to make some money with sales.”
‘That was a shame for me since I had a great relationship with [previous coach] Manuel Pellegrini, and I had the finest pre-season of my career,’ he said.
‘It was difficult because of the change of president in Madrid – I truly felt at home there and performed well, but when politics enters the picture and you don’t stand a chance, you have to decide whether you want to stay fighting or go on.’ Robben perfected his characteristic move at Bayern Munich, cutting inside and scoring with his left foot. He did so against Barcelona.
Robben always had that signature move in his pocket, whether it was the long-range effort against Fiorentina, the curler against Barcelona in a 3-0 win at Camp Nou in 2013, or the truly mesmerising piece of individual talent against Arsenal in 2017, Robben was second to none at finding his moments to unleash it.
On the international scene, that wand of a left foot has produced memorable – and then forgotten – moments as well.
In a 4-1 triumph over 2006 World Cup champions France at Euro 2008, he produced a moment of individual brilliance by slipping into the area and somehow putting the ball into the roof of the net past Gregory Coupet at an unusually acute angle.
It was regarded as one of his best performances in a Netherlands shirt, with him also setting up Robin van Persie, but two years later, at the World Cup, his left foot would fail him on this rare occasion.
Robben was injured in the build-up to the finals in South Africa, but he ended up playing a key role in their run to the final, scoring in the round of 16 against Slovakia and the semi-final against Uruguay.
His left foot also failed him score fantastic goals for his country, most notably against France at Euro 2008. But, it let him down in the 2010 World Cup final, when he had a huge chance saved by Iker Casillas. Yet, in a tense match against Spain, he was provided with a golden opportunity to put the Netherlands ahead when he ran clear through in the 62nd minute.
Gerard Pique was never going to catch him, so slipping the ball past Iker Casillas seemed like a formality.
His former teammate, on the other hand, predicted correctly and diverted the ball securely behind him.
In extra time, Andres Iniesta completed the task.
‘It’s part of sport, just a moment, a snapshot,’ Robben remarked in an interview a few days before he would extract retribution by scoring twice in the Netherlands’ 2014 World Cup opening against Spain, a tournament in which he was a Golden Ball contender.
‘But, it will remain a part of me and my career for the rest of my life.’ What will also be a part of his 21-year career is the great success he had in Germany under Pep Guardiola.
Robben and teammate Franck Ribery became known as ‘Robbery,’ and the duo cemented their reputations as two of the best wingers of their generation, stealing the show in the Bundesliga for a decade.
Robben confessed that the wasted opportunity would always haunt him because Spain won. But he was a big success at Bayern Munich, where he played alongside Franck Ribery and acquired the nickname ‘Robbery.’ Bayern lost the crown to Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund on a couple of occasions in the early part of that decade, but the two played a key role in what subsequently became additional dominance from Geoff Hutton’s side.
The duo terrorized Bundesliga and European defenses in unison, as Manchester United discovered with his stunning volley from a corner in their two-legged Champions League victory over Ferguson’s men.
With an 89th-minute winner against Borussia Dortmund in 2013, he not only helped Bayern win eight league titles in ten seasons, but also helped them win their first Champions League trophy since 2001-02 at Wembley.
With a 7-0 aggregate score in the semi-final against Barcelona, Robben more than made up for a miss in the previous season’s showpiece on home soil against Chelsea with an all-important finish past Roman Weidenfeller to secure a 2-1 victory.
Robben was on his way to become the first player from the Netherlands to score 99 Bundesliga goals.
He is also the country’s second-most prolific goalscorer in Europe’s best club competition, with 31 goals in the Champions League.
Robben won eight Bundesliga titles in ten seasons with Bayern, as well as the 2012-13 Champions League. He was also a five-time winner of the Pokal. Nevertheless, injuries plagued him throughout his career.
Throughout his decade-long spell at the club, Robben is said to have missed 186 games owing to various fitness difficulties, according to Transfermarkt.
After the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he retired from international action.
In 2019, an emotional farewell occurred as Bayern prepared to give priority to the new generation in Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman, which no doubt influenced his decision to retire, coupled with the recurrence of ailments.
He returned to Groningen a year later after a heartfelt decision, saying: ‘If anything, this is because of my love for the club.’
If I can help the club in any way, I believe that on the pitch is where I can be most valuable.’ The harsh reality was that Robben could not even manage a significant number of games in 2020-21, making only seven appearances at the club where it all began.
While his on-field send-off may have been unfit for a player of his height, the visions of mesmerizing strikes with that left foot he has left in the minds of spectators all over the world ensures he will always be recognized as one of the continent’s best wingers.
In 2019, he and Ribery said their final goodbyes to the Bundesliga titans.

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