- Category : Footballer
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 4
Arjen Robben (born 23 January 1984) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays for German Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the Netherlands national team. Robben has appeared at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Championships, and the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. He is a forward who usually plays as a left or right sided winger. Robben is known for his dribbling skills, speed, crossing ability and his accurate left foot long-range shots from the right wing.
Robben first came to prominence with Groningen, for whom he was player of the year for the 2000–01 Eredivisie season. Two years later he signed for PSV, where he became the Netherlands' Young Player of the Year and won an Eredivisie title. The following season Robben's signature was pursued by leading English clubs, and after protracted transfer negotiations he joined Chelsea in 2004.
Robben's Chelsea debut was delayed through injury, but upon returning to fitness he helped Chelsea bring home two consecutive Premier League titles, and was the FA Premier League Player of the Month in November 2005. After a third season in England which was punctuated by injury, Robben moved to Spanish club Real Madrid for €35 million. In August 2009, Robben transferred to Bayern Munich for a fee of around €25 million, scoring two goals on his debut. In his first season in Munich, Bayern won the league title, Robben's fifth league title in eight years, and Robben scored the winning goal in the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final. After his first season with Bayern, Robben was also named Footballer of the Year in Germany.
Early football life
Robben was born in Bedum, a satellite town of Groningen in the north-eastern Netherlands. He took to football from an early age, becoming an adherent of the Coerver Method. Robben's skill in ball control and technical footwork made him a valuable player, and he was quickly signed by regional club FC Groningen. Here, he developed his distinctive style of cutting inside from the right onto his left foot to score some quite spectacular goals.
Groningen placed Robben in their first team for the 1999–2000 season. He scored three goals in league play. Manager Jan van Dijk added the winger to the first team before Groningen's November 2000 away game against Twente, but he did not play until 3 December 2000 against Waalwijk, as a substitute for the injured Leonardo dos Santos in the 79th minute. During the winter, Robben managed to play himself into the starting lineup. In 18 starts for Groningen over the 2000–01 season, he scored two goals. Robben was named player of the year for his first season with the 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 six goals. Robben transferred to PSV for €3.9 million before the 2002–03 season.
During his first season for PSV, the 2002–03 season, Robben played 33 matches and scored 12 goals. He was named "PSV co-player of the year" along with striker Mateja Kežman, with whom he formed an attacking partnership still fondly referred to by PSV fans as "Batman and Robben". He helped lead PSV to their 17th Dutch title, and won the Talented Player of the Year award. After this good start, PSV could not keep up with rival Ajax and were forced into a fight for second place in the Eredivisie. Robben travelled to London and met with Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson's offer came in much too low for PSV's and Robben's liking; PSV 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 (£12.1 million), and PSV accepted. The rest of his season with PSV was disappointing. He injured his hamstring twice and missed several games. By the end of the season, Robben scored five times in 23 Eredivisie matches.
Robben did not make his competitive debut for Chelsea until November 2004, as he was injured in a pre-season friendly match against Roma, breaking a metatarsal bone in his right foot in a challenge from Olivier Dacourt. During this time, he told club doctors that he had noticed an unfamiliar growth on one of his testicles. The medical team quickly did tests to check for testicular cancer, but he was subsequently given the all clear.
Robben proved to be a crucial player for the 2004–05 season; in November 2004, he was awarded the FA Premier League "Player of the Month" award. Robben ended the 2004–05 season with seven 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. 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. Back to fitness for 2005–06, Robben was an integral part of the Chelsea left wing. In 28 matches, Robben contributed six goals as Chelsea won a second consecutive Premier League championship, the first back-to-back titles for the west London club.
The 2005–06 season saw Robben involved in an unsporting incident with Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Towards the end of a league game between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, which Chelsea won 2–0, Reina shoved his hand in Robben's face after some provocative words from Robben. Robben fell theatrically to the turf, and Reina received a red card for "violent behaviour", as violent conduct is illegal. As a result of the incident Reina commented that Robben "did well enough to win an Oscar" for his theatrics. Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez later joked in a post-match interview that he "would soon be going to hospital to check on Robben's condition". Reina's red card was not rescinded.
Robben was inflicted with yet another injury in a match against Liverpool on 20 January 2007. Robben made his return in a 3–0 victory against Middlesbrough in February driving in a shot that took a deflection past Mark Schwarzer for an own goal by Abel Xavier. He came on as a substitute for Claude Makélélé in the 2007 League Cup Final against Arsenal and set up the winning goal for Didier Drogba. Robben scored a goal in the second round of the UEFA Champions League against Porto, which led to Chelsea winning the tie 3–2 on aggregate. At the end of March 2007, Robben underwent a knee operation after sustaining a knee injury upon returning from international duty that was expected to rule him out for at least four weeks. He only made two further appearances for Chelsea, both of which were as a substitute and both of which would prove to be key games for the club. His first appearance since returning from injury was against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg which went to penalties. Robben went on to have his penalty saved by Pepe Reina, and Chelsea ultimately lost. His final appearance for the club came against Manchester United in the 2007 FA Cup Final. Robben replaced Joe Cole at half time, but was then subsequently substituted himself for Ashley Cole in extra time as Chelsea emerged victorious. Spanish club Real Madrid were interested in two of Chelsea's players. Then manager Bernd Schuster is said to have demanded Michael Ballack, while Madrid's former president, Ramón Calderón, was known to favour Robben. Robben said to reporters of Spanish newspaper AS: "I do not know when a deal will be reached. I would like to send a message to the Madrid fans, but I can't until my future is sorted."
Real Madrid eventually secured Robben's services in August 2007. He told Chelsea's official club website: "It was difficult to leave because I had a great time in my three years at Chelsea and I made a lot of friends. There was no time to say goodbye because the deal was closed on the Wednesday at 10 o'clock in the evening and the following morning I had to fly. If I have one day off I would want to come back and say goodbye because to the fans I owe a big thank you because they were always good to me. In my three years I won all the prizes there are to win in England."
Robben completed his move to Real Madrid on a five-year deal on 22 August 2007, with the transfer fee reported as £24 million (€35 million). He made his debut on 18 September as a substitute for Raúl during a Champions League match against Werder Bremen, which Real Madrid won 2–1. His league debut came on 23 September, this time as a substitute for Royston Drenthe in a 1–1 away draw against Valladolid. On 10 February 2008, Robben scored his first goal, this time at home in a 7–0 victory against Valladolid. Robben proved crucial for many Real Madrid matches, making his famous runs down the left wing, and quickly became a first choice for the left midfield position, making 28 appearances during his debut season and scoring five goals. Real Madrid won the league title with some games to spare, and were already the champions of Spain when they played their arch-rivals FC Barcelona on 7 May 2008. The Barcelona players formed a guard of honor as the Madrid team came onto the pitch at the Santiago Bernabéu, and Robben played an important part in Real Madrid's subsequent 4–1 victory, scoring the champions' second goal.
He retained his key role in the Real Madrid midfield during the 2008–09 season, playing 35 times and scoring eight goals. Although the Dutchman was one of the Spanish side's most important players in the pre-season games leading up to the 2009–10 season, having scored three goals and help set up another four, he was among the players whose place in the first team became threatened following the arrival of Florentino Pérez and the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká. Real Madrid accepted a bid of around €25 million for Robben from Bayern Munich. Robben claimed he was "forced" to leave Real Madrid, saying that he "didn't want to go, but the club wanted to sell him".
On 28 August 2009, Robben moved to Bayern Munich for around €25 million. He was given the number 10 shirt, last worn by his fellow Dutchman, Roy Makaay. His debut came the day after. He came on as a half-time substitute against Wolfsburg, scored two goals, and helped his team beat last season's champions in Bayern's first win of the 2009–10 season. On 9 March 2010, Robben scored the deciding goal in Bayern's 2–3 defeat (4–4 on aggregate over two legs) against Fiorentina, taking them through to the quarter finals of the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League on away goals.
On 7 April 2010, Robben sent Bayern Munich into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League with a stunning volley against Manchester United from the edge of the area into the corner of the net. The game ended 3–2 to United (4–4 on aggregate) with Bayern advancing again due to away goals.
On 17 April 2010, he scored his first hat-trick in the Bundesliga against Hannover 96 in the Allianz Arena. The game ended 7–0 to the Bavarians. On 8 May 2010, he won his first Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich after scoring two goals in their 3–1 victory over Hertha BSC, finishing as Bayern's top scorer in the process.
A week later, Bayern played in the DFB-Pokal Final against the previous champions of the tournament, Werder Bremen, in Berlin's Olympiastadion. Bayern won the game by 4–0; Robben scored the first of those four goals from a penalty kick. Robben thus helped the Bavarians achieve their fifteenth DFB-Pokal title. On 25 May 2010, Robben was named Footballer of the Year in Germany for the year 2010. He won the election by attaining a record 72.1% of the vote and was the first Dutch person to win this election.
The 2010–11 season started badly for Robben, after medical tests confirmed that his hamstring had not properly healed and that he would be out for two months. Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stated that "Of course, Bayern Munich are very angry" with the Dutch FA, and would be seeking compensation from them, continuing "Once again we must pay the bill as a club after a player is seriously injured playing for a national team." On 15 January 2011, he returned to first team action, coming on as a substitute in the 1–1 away draw with VfL Wolfsburg.
Robben was nominated for the "UEFA Champions League Best Midfielder", but this went to his international compatriot Wesley Sneijder. He has also been nominated for the prestigious Ballon d'Or award, and the FIFA Puskás Award, which goes to the best goal of the year, and he has also been nominated for FIFA’s "FIFPro World XI 2010" squad, thanks to his fantastic season with Bayern Munich.
In the second leg of the semi-finals of the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League, against his former club Real Madrid which was now managed by José Mourinho (who had been his manager at Chelsea), after Bayern fell behind 2–0, Robben converted a penalty to level the tie at 3–3. Bayern advanced to the final after winning the resulting penalty shootout.
On 3 May 2012 it was reported that Robben has signed a new contract with Bayern which will last till 2015.
Robben with the Champions League trophy during Bayern Munich's celebration of the continental treble in which Bayern won the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, and DFB-Pokal in 2013
Robben had an extra-time penalty saved by former teammate Petr Čech in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final at the Allianz Arena against Chelsea. Had the penalty gone in, Bayern Munich would have led Chelsea 2–1. However the match ended in a penalty shootout which Chelsea won. That was the fourth major cup final that he had been on the losing side during the last two years (World Cup final, two Champions League finals and the DFB Pokal). Three days later in the same stadium while playing as a second half substitute for the Netherlands in a friendly against Bayern Munich, he was jeered by some disgruntled Bayern Munich fans every time he touched the ball (due to his penalty miss in the Champions League final, and as he did not play on Bayern's side during that match due to a decision taken by Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk). The match had been organized to compensate Bayern, since Robben aggravated an injury playing for the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup, and went on to miss several months of the 2010–11 season.
In the 2012–13 season, Robben had started the season on the bench, as manager Jupp Heynckes preferred to start Thomas Müller on the right wing, with Toni Kroos at the attacking midfielder position. Robben had played through the season as a substitute, but earned his chance to start again after Kroos was injured during the Champions League tie against Juventus. He started on the right wing for the rest of the season, having moved Müller back to the middle. Robben started against Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal and scored the game's lone goal in the 43rd minute. In the Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona, Robben started both games and scored in both games, including the go-ahead goal in the second leg. Bayern would then go on to return to the Final. Robben atoned for his penalty miss the previous season by setting up teammate Mario Mandžukić's goal to open the scoring in the 60th minute then netting an 89th minute winner in a 2–1 victory over Borussia Dortmund to give Bayern their fifth European Cup. During the presentation he was named Man of the Match by UEFA.
Robben scored his first goals of the 2013–14 season in the 2013 DFL-Supercup, where Bayern were beaten 4–2 by Borussia Dortmund. On 9 August 2013, his opening goal helped Bayern to a 3–1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in their first match of the Bundesliga campaign.
On 17 September, he scored in Bayern's Champions League opener against CSKA Moskva at the Allianz Arena. He went on to score two further goals during the Champions League group stage; in away wins against Manchester City and CSKA as Bayern finished as group winners.
On 23 November, Robben was one of three scorers as Bayern beat title rivals Borussia Dortmund 3–0 at the Westfalenstadion. On 4 December, Robben was substituted with a deep cut on his right knee in a 2–0 DFB-Pokal win away to FC Augsburg which prevented him from taking part in the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup.
On 1 March 2014, Robben scored a hat-trick in Bayern's 5–1 win over FC Schalke 04. On 19 March, he signed a contract extension with Bayern, which will keep him at the club until 2017. On 9 April, Robben scored Bayern's third goal in a 3–1 Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United, to secure qualification to the semi-finals.
On 17 May, Robben scored Bayern's opening goal in a 2–0 extra-time defeat of Borussia Dortmund in the 2014 DFB-Pokal Final, giving him his third league and cup double in five seasons with the club. His goal made him the first player to score in three separate DFB-Pokal finals.
On 13 July, after winning the third place match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Louis van Gaal invited Robben to follow him to Manchester United, but the latter ruled out the move.
Robben has played in 78 matches for the Netherlands national football team, scoring 26 goals. In April 2003, he made his international debut in a friendly match against Portugal at the age of 19.
Robben's first participation at an international tournament came at UEFA Euro 2004 when manager Dick Advocaat called up younger players, such as Wesley Sneijder and John Heitinga. During the group stage of the tournament, Advocaat substituted Robben in the 66th minute to defend a 2–1 lead over the Czech Republic. However, the Czech team then scored two goals and won 3–2, which led to criticism about Advocaat's decision. In the quarter-finals, Robben scored the deciding kick in the penalty shootout between the Netherlands and Sweden, which ensured that at the fifth attempt, the Dutch finally won a shootout.
2006 World Cup
Robben played in his first 2006 World Cup qualifier in 2006. In six games for the Netherlands, Robben scored two goals. The Netherlands qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and in the Netherlands opening match against Serbia and Montenegro, Robben scored the winning goal in the 18th minute, and was named the Man of the match. In the match against Côte d'Ivoire, Robben received this award the second time, thus becoming one of the eight players in the tournament to have won the Man of the Match Award more than once.
During UEFA Euro 2008, manager Marco van Basten changed the formation to 4–2–3–1, preferring the midfield trio of Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt. Robben was left to battle it out with Robin van Persie for a place on the wing. In the group match against France, which the Netherlands won 4–1, Robben was brought on at half-time. He dragged the ball out of reach of a defender near the half-way line and paced his way ahead of three defenders, then crossed straight to Van Persie who powered a shot into the goal past Grégory Coupet. At 2–0, Thierry Henry scored a goal, making it 2–1, and almost directly after the restart, Robben was played through by Sneijder and he ran at the France goal and was forced into an acute angle, but despite the angle, he shot the ball into the net past Coupet.
2010 World Cup
Robben was selected by the Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk for the final squad of 23 for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In the team's last friendly match against Hungary, just before its flight to South Africa on 4 June, Robben fell awkwardly, and picked up a hamstring injury which caused concern over his fitness for the tournament. On 5 June, Van Marwijk announced that he'd "decided not to summon any substitute for Arjen. I want to give him every chance to still participate in the World Cup." On 12 June 2010, Robben arrived in South Africa to join the team. He was an unused substitute for the opening game against Denmark as they coasted to a 2–0 victory, and again in the 1–0 victory against Japan. He came on in the 73rd minute against Cameroon in their 2–1 victory, hitting the post from which Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored from the rebound. On 28 June 2010, he started his first match against Slovakia in which he went on to score the first goal in the second round as the Netherlands won 2–1. He also went on to pick up the man of the match award. Robben scored the third goal with a well-placed header in the semi-finals against Uruguay which the Netherlands won 3–2 to reach the final. Robben played for the full match in the final as the Netherlands lost 1–0 to Spain. Robben had Netherlands's best opportunity of the match when played in on goal by Wesley Sneijder in the 62nd minute of the match, but was denied by Iker Casillas. Robben was nominated for the 2010 World Cup Golden Ball, the tournament's best player, which was won by Diego Forlán.
Robben was selected to play for the Netherlands at UEFA Euro 2012. He started in the first group stage match, a 1–0 loss to Denmark, in which he hit the post with a curled effort. In the next match, a 2–1 loss to Germany, he hopped over the advertising boards and walked the long way round after being subbed off for Dirk Kuyt because he thought he could have inspired the Netherlands to a win. After a 2–1 loss to Portugal, the Netherlands were knocked out with three straight defeats.
2014 World Cup
In the Netherlands' first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Robben scored two goals in a 5–1 win over Spain. In the Netherlands' second group stage match, a 3–2 win over Australia, Robben scored the team's opening goal as they qualified for the knockout stage. In the Round of 16 knock-out game with Mexico, the Netherlands won on a penalty awarded after Robben went down following a challenge from Rafael Márquez. The Associated Press said that Robben's "theatrical" fall "did little to defuse the debate about his reputation for diving." Robben maintained that the penalty was correct but admitted to falling easily earlier in the match, telling a Dutch TV channel that "the one was a penalty, but the other one was a dive in the first half. I shouldn't be doing that."
In the quarter-final, Robben scored the Netherlands' second kick in a 4–3 penalty shootout defeat of Costa Rica. On 11 July, Robben was named on the 10-man shortlist for FIFA's Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player.
Style of play
Robben is a world class player. He can, as we know from experience, decide a game on his own. To stop him, you have to double him.“”
— Borussia Dortmund's Kevin Großkreutz on having two players mark Robben.
I always prefer to be honest and I said there was one foul in the first half where I went to the ground when the opponent took his leg away at the last moment ... It had nothing to do with the game and the penalty was a clear penalty. I apologise for the action in the first-half but that’s football ...“”
— Robben admits to diving against Mexico in 2014, but argues that it only happened during the less-crucial first half.
Robben is regarded as one of the best wingers in the world, with ESPN stating he is "able to take on and beat defenders at the drop of a hat, Robben's ability to get to the byline and deliver in accurate crosses instils fear into any defence." Usually deployed on the right wing, Robben often cuts inside on his left foot to move to a more central attacking position, and uses his speed and dribbling skills to take on defenders until he finds the space to make an attempt on goal.
During a match he will often drift to the left wing, with his teammate, in the case of Bayern Munich, Franck Ribéry, switching over to the right. Another factor in his playing style is his relationship with the right-fullback. At Bayern, this partnership with Philipp Lahm has had benefits for the team's efficiency and chemistry. Robben's defensive work improved when he went to Bayern where he often tracks back and covers for his partner when he pushes forward and becomes a temporary right back.
Robben has been often accused of diving, and he has at times openly admitted to the charges. In December 2011, Robben apologised for a dive against VfL Bochum in a DFB-Pokal match which earned him a yellow card, saying "I must not do things like this". In July 2014, Robben admitted to diving in the first half of Netherlands' match against Mexico in the last 16 round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but maintained that he had not dived for the decisive penalty he won in stoppage time which Netherlands converted to win 2-1. Following the incident, Robben's former manager at Chelsea, José Mourinho, claimed that Robben's speed and creativity cause opponents who cannot stop him to foul him, but "sometimes tries to get an advantage, or to get a penalty".
Robben married his girlfriend Bernadien Eillert on 9 June 2007 in Groningen. The two met while in high school in the city, at the Kamerlingh Onnes, and have two sons, Luka born in 2008 and Kai born 2012 and a daughter, Lynn born in 2010. Robben's father, Hans, works as his agent.
The circumstances of Arjen and Bernadien's first meeting have been reported by his former youth coach, Barend Beltman. 'Arjen was driven and determined at a young age. He was always on time, never late. But one Friday afternoon he showed up 15 minutes past the start of practice. I asked him what was going on. "We were at the market square, having fun", he said. There were some girls with him and his friends, so I asked, "Was she worth it?" "Yes, trainer, she was", he told me. I told him to get his gear and join the training session. At his wedding, I heard the woman he met that day was now his wife and mother of his children. Bernadien is her name.'